Capt. James Spence ( 1839-1822) Carthage, Jasper, Missouri


This photo was from James Spence's obituary in the Carthage Press. The obituary was dated March 13, 1922

This photo was from James Spence’s obituary in the Carthage Press. The obituary was dated March 13, 1922





Had Been Ill Several Weeks–Was Prominent Citizen, Soldier, Business Man and Official

Capt. James Spence, a resident of Jasper county for 56 years, died at his home, 1529 South Garrison avenue, on Sunday afternoon at 3:45 o’clock after an illness of several weeks due to ailments incident to old age. Had he lived until March 14 he would have been 83 years old.

Captain Spence was a leading Carthage citizen, had served as county treasurer, city treasurer, member of the city council and member of the school board, serving four years as secretary of the latter body. He had been a merchant here, and for many years up to the time of his last illness was engaged in the insurance business and was publisher of the Record Reporter, a daily journal for businessmen and investors.

Captain Spence was a man of sterling integrity and stood very high in the community where he had so long lived, not only because of his character but because of his capabilities as a citizen and the fine qualities which brought him a very large number of warm friendships.

The funeral will be held from the home tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock, the 83rd anniversary of his birth. Because of the fact, as he himself expressed it, that he had had his flowers in life, and so abundantly during his last illness, friends are asked to omit flowers for the funeral service.

The Rev. Dr. J. D. McCaughtry, pastor of the First Presbyterian church, of which the deceased was a number, will have charge of the service.

Grew Up in Illinois

James Spence was born in Adams county, Illinois, March 14, 1839 and was the sixth of ten children. His father was John Spence, of Davidson county, North Carolina who emigrated to Illinois about 1826.

James Spence was reared on a farm and attended the common schools of the neighborhood during the winter months. In 1858 he attended McKendree college at Lebanon, Illinois, and spent part of the following year in teaching. The following two years he attended Quincy college under the presidency of Prof. J. F. Jaques, who afterward was colonel of the famous “Preacher’s Regiment,” the 73rd Illinois infantry in the civil war and who gained some notoriety as one of the peace committee who ineffectually interviewed Jefferson Davis on the subject of bringing about peace between the north and south. He became of age in 1860 and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln for president in November of that year.

He enlisted as a private in Company L, 2nd Illinois cavalry, July 15, 1861, at Quincy, Illinois, being one of four brothers to enlist, and served in that capacity for two years and ten months. His first experience in battle was at Belmont, Mo., November 7 1861 under General Grant, General Logan and some other officers who afterwards gained distinction during the war. In the spring of 1862 he participated in the capture of New Madrid, Mo., and from there went to Island No. 10 on the Mississippi river, spending the remainder of the year in scouting duty between that point and Memphis, Tenn.

On account of serious disability he was sent to a government hospital at Paducah, Ky., in the early part of 1864. In the month of May of that year General Forest made a raid and attacked a small fortification called Ford Holt. The fort was garrisoned by about three hundred colored soldiers belonging to the 8th U.S. heavy artillery which was being organized there at that time. Many of the hospital convalescents, of which Mr. Spence was one, hastened to the fort and assisted in its defense, as a result of which Forest was defeated with considerable loss and ingloriously retreated from the scene of action.

Took a Lieutenancy

Observing the bravery displayed by the colored troops and the demand at the time for officers to lead them, the subject of this sketch accepted the appointment of second lieutenant and soon thereafter entered on duty with the regiment. The organization did garrison duty till the spring of 1865 when it was ordered to Richmond, Va., to participate in the siege of that city. Being delayed somewhat in securing transportation the regiment was sailing up the Ohio river when the news came that Lincoln was assassinated. Richmond in the mean time having fallen, the regiment moved on to Washington, which they reached the second day after Lincoln’s assassination, and was detained there for several days during the excitement of that terrible occasion. From Washington they were ordered to City Point, Va., and after a brief stay there, were put aboard transports. After a tedious voyage of about thirty days they reached the coast of Texas as a part of the 25th army corps, all on account of the trouble brewing at that time over the action of France in placing Maximillan on the throne as emperor of Mexico.

Much of the time of Lieutenant Spence was spent, after he was commissioned with this regiment, in staff duty of different kinds. His last service was that of quarter master in charge of a large amount of government property used in rebuilding and equipping a military railroad from Victoria, Texas, to Indianola on the gulf. The regiment was mustered out of service in March, 1866, but Lieutenant Spence was detained nearly a month longer to turn over the property in his charge and make settlement with the government. His service covered a continuous period of more than four years and eight months.

Almost immediately after his discharge Captain Spence came to Jasper County, Missouri, reaching here about the first of May, 1866. He has resided ever since, most of the time in the city of Carthage.

Captain Spence was married on November 11, 1868, to Miss Mary Elizabeth Hood, who died many years ago. To them two children were born, Mrs. Inez Ornduff, now deceased, and Mrs. Nelle Royse, wife of O. D. Royse, of Joplin. Captain Spence’s second married was to Miss Emma Corwin, who survives him. To them one child was born, Walter Spence, who died as the result of an electrical accident in this city many years. ago.[1]


“Who was James Spence?” I asked my grandfather, after finding the James Spence obituary in my grandparents’ trunk.

“Oh, he was my dad’s cousin!” Grandpa told me.

“Well, where did the Spences come from?” I asked.

“They came from Kentucky.”

It was the summer of 1958, and I had been spending a week with my grandparents–William Franklin Spence (1884-1973) and Oda Elizabeth Hopper Spence (1894-1981). Having acquired an early interest in genealogy, I had already asked them for names and dates of people, but my grandfather’s Kentucky response later sent me on a year-long goose chase into the state looking for ancestors there. I did not begin an active search until the early 1990s. It was only after finding a Missouri Census record, indicating my second great-grandfather was born in Tennessee and not in Kentucky, that I was finally off in the right direction. However, the James Spence connection left me puzzled. Who was he?

I actually forgot about this obituary for a long time.  I was looking inside my grandmother’s trunk–something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. And after digging down a distance, I found it between several items. Well, since I wasn’t supposed to be looking inside the trunk let alone digging around inside it, I didn’t want to ask whether I could borrow it. So I decided to take it home, hand copy it (this was long before copy machines) and then return the original to the trunk. That didn’t happen. I don’t remember where I put the obituary after returning home, but years later, I found it loose inside a scrapbook.

“I still have this?”

By then I was married and living in another state. My grandparents had long departed–so had their trunk. I have no idea what happened to the trunk or to the contents inside it.

Who knows? By “borrowing” the clipping, I may have saved “history.”

I then transferred the clipping to my dresser drawer, and it stayed in that drawer for a long time. When I rediscovered it in that drawer much later, I decided to get serious about genealogy. What follows is the rest of my discovery.

* * *

Searching for James Spence’s ancestry and his connection with my Spence line has been a particular challenge. Although a prominent figure in Jasper County, Missouri for many years, few researchers have been interested in James. What is more disappointing is that few researchers have been interested in his father John. Some have attempted to identify a wife for him, a location or locations where he lived and the names of his children. Some of those attempts led me down an unfruitful path. More often or not, this was the wrong John Spence. Some researchers had him living in Tennessee prior to his removal to Illinois, where some of his children were born. Other researchers identified him as a John Spence who died in Allamakee, Iowa in the late 1800s. While this information looked enticing, I noticed that James Spence’s obituary made no mention of Iowa or of Tennessee at all. According to the obituary, John Spence was from Davidson County, North Carolina and moved his family to Illinois. After several starts and stops, I was finally forced to delete everything I had entered on my charts and start all over again. In the late 1990s, I spent two summers reading old microfilm of the Carthage Press in our local library and saved all notices pertaining to Capt. James Spence. No, the microfilm wasn’t buried inside a trunk. I obtained it through inter-library loan. So armed with a notebook full of Jasper County data obtained from that microfilm and with the obituary from 1922, I began a new search.

John Spence was a son of Robert Spence (1767-1825) and Lovey Sexton (1773-1851). John’s wife’s name was Elizabeth, but her maiden name is unknown.  Robert Spence was  a son of James Spence (1730-1804) of Randolph County, North Carolina, and Lucy Upton (1734-1788). James Spence was a son of James Spence (1702-1753) and Elizabeth Greaves (Graves) (1707-1755), a brother of William Edward Spence (1722-1785), and an uncle of Elisha Spence (1776-1835) [For the previous article written on James Spence of Randolph County, click HERE.] The Spence families  initially settled in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, having arrived there from Maryland in the late 1600s/early 1700s.


Robert Spence (1767-1825)

On December 3, 1798, Robert Spence married Lovey Sexton (1773-1857), the daughter of Willis Sexton, in Pasquotank County. Their children have been identified from Robert’s will:

  1. Alston Spence (1799-1836)
  2. Joseph Spence (1801-1876)
  3. Jeremiah Spence (b. 1803)
  4. Willis Spence (b. 1805-1875)
  5. Robert Spence (1807-1843)
  6. John Spence (1808-1866)
  7. Daniel Spence (b. 1809-1882)
  8. Mark Spence (b. 1812-1860)
  9. Thornton Spence (b. 1814-1880) [2]

Robert Spence’s father, James Spence (1730-1804)—Executor of William Spence’s estate—left Pasquotank County and resettled in Randolph County, which had been carved from Guilford County in 1779 [3] This James Spence raised Elisha Spence (1776-1835), a son of William Spence. Elisha was my fourth great-grandfather. He appears to have left Pasquotank in 1785 or 1786 (after William’s death)—so his new location would have been in Randolph County.

[Note: Robert Spence died in Davidson County, North Carolina in 1825. Davidson was carved from Rowan in 1820 [4]—so in all likelihood the family first settled first in Randolph and later moved out to Rowan or to Davidson. A number of researchers list Davidson County as the birth location for his sons, but since all of them were born prior to 1820, Davidson County would not have existed.]

A summary of the Last Will and Testament of Robert Spence follows:

1:39 Robert Spence. 24 Aug 1825; Prob. Sept. 1825

I have given to my son Joseph Spence to the amount of $40.00. And to my son Willis Spence I give one bay colt at $30.00 and I give him 410.00 in something else. All my sons to be made equal with them when they come of age or marry, that is my sons–Jeremiah Spence, Robert Spence, Daniel Spence, John Spence, Mark Spence and Thornton Spence. My son Alston Spence to have but 50 cents of my property. My wife, Lovey Spence, all my property, real and personal, during her life or widowhood to be used to support and raise my small children and to give them moderate learning. Further at the death of marriage of my wife, all shall be sold and equally divided among my children (after having) been made equal with Joseph Spence and Willis Spence–that is Jeremiah Spence, Willis Spence, Robert Spence, John Spence, Daniel Spence, Mark Spence and Thornton Spence. Executor: William Hannah. Wit: Henry Stewart, Joseph Spence, Alphasmy Reley.[5]

At this point, I do not know why Robert “disinherited” his oldest son Alston. According to the will summary, Alston was not to receive more than fifty cents of Robert’s total estate. Perhaps he had already given a large share to his son Alston, or he may have been displeased with him. Alston died eleven years after his father.


John Spence (1808-1866)

Census records indicate that John Spence was born about 1808 in North Carolina and that he probably died shortly after 1866 (the date of the last IRS Assessment record bearing his name). Unlike a number of members of the Pasquotank, North Carolina Spence families who relocated to Tennessee and Kentucky, John Spence and several of his brothers relocated to Illinois, taking their mother with them. Lovey Sexton Spence died in Adams County, Illinois in 1857. The name of John’s first wife—the mother of all of his children—is unknown, although the name “Elizabeth” has been suggested. They were married about 1829 in Davidson County, North Carolina. The Spences had the following children:

  1. William A. Spence (b. 1830, North Carolina)
  2. Martha Spence (b. 1832, North Carolina)
  3. Daniel Spence (b. 1833, North Carolina)
  4. Obediah Spence (b. 1836, Illinois)
  5. Willis Spence (b. 1837, Illinois)
  6. Capt. James Spence (1839-1922, Illinois)
  7. Ann Spence (b. 1840, Illinois)
  8. Sarah Spence (b. 1842, Illinois)
  9. John Fletcher Spence (b. 1843, Illinois)
  10. Thomas Spence (b. 1845, Illinois) [6]

John’s first wife died about 1847. His second wife was Elizabeth J. Gibson, whom he married in Adams County, Illinois April 6, 1848. Her year of birth is estimated as 1807, and she may have died shortly after 1860. Since several of John’s sons relocated to Jasper County, Missouri about 1866, that was probably the year of John’s death.


Capt. James Spence (1839-1922)

When the Civil War Broke out, James Spence and four of his brothers signed up and served in the Union Army. According to his obituary:

He enlisted as a private in Company L, 2nd Illinois cavalry, July 15, 1861, at Quincy, Illinois, being one of four brothers to enlist, and served in that capacity for two years and ten months. His first experience in battle was at Belmont, Mo., November 7 1861 under General Grant, General Logan and some other officers who afterwards gained distinction during the war. In the spring of 1862 he participated in the capture of New Madrid, Mo., and from there went to Island No. 10 on the Mississippi river, spending the remainder of the year in scouting duty between that point and Memphis, Tenn.

On account of serious disability he was sent to a government hospital at Paducah, Ky., in the early part of 1864. In the month of May of that year General Forest made a raid and attacked a small fortification called Ford Holt. The fort was garrisoned by about three hundred colored soldiers belonging to the 8th U.S. heavy artillery which was being organized there at that time. Many of the hospital convalescents, of which Mr. Spence was one, hastened to the fort and assisted in its defense, as a result of which Forest was defeated with considerable loss and ingloriously retreated from the scene of action.[7]

By the end of the war, James Spence received the rank of Captain and was thereafter referred to as Captain Spence. He and his brothers appear to have returned to Adams County, Illinois and remained there until after their father died in 1866. Capt. James Spence and at least two of his brothers, Fletcher and Thomas, relocated to Jasper County, Missouri, which was then described as a “Mecca” in the wake of huge lead mining operations that brought prosperity to the region. I do not know how acquainted they were with their distant cousins who lived in the area. Samuel and Daniel Spence, sons of Elisha Spence, were dead. Milly Catherine Spence Jones still resided in the area. Some cousins had left the region, either for Kansas or Texas or other parts of the West and South. And there were a few cousins who may not have been too inclined to welcome a Yankee distant relative from Illinois. On the other hand, two uncles had already settled in Missouri: Willis Spence, settled in Greene County, Missouri and Joseph Spence relocated to Independence, Clay County, Missouri

Feelings remained high in the area immediately after the war and in 1866 through the end of the century, Jasper County became the domain of Republican rule and strong Pro-Union Support. Such feeling stands out strongly in an 1891 account from The Carthage Press:

The Dalton boys, the most daring outlaws in Oklahoma, suspected of the Santa Fe Express robery [sic] last night were deputy United States Marshals under President Cleveland. They came from Missouri and were considered good Missouri Democrats. [Topeka Capital]

Now come on; It is bad enough at this time to have our courts conducted by a Democratic Judge fail to convict ex-Treasurer Noland without charging the crimes committed in Oklahoma upon her noble Democratic sons. Missouri can stand most anything but we would like to draw a line somewhere. [8]

When Capt. James Spence arrived in Jasper County, he was immediately liked because those in power approved of his credentials. He was a Union officer during the Civil War. He was a Republican. He became an active member of the Grand Old Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) As his obituary notes:

Captain Spence was a leading Carthage citizen, had served as county treasurer, city treasurer, member of the city council and member of the school board, serving four years as secretary of the latter body. He had been a merchant here, and for many years up to the time of his last illness was engaged in the insurance business and was publisher of the Record Reporter, a daily journal for businessmen and investors.

Captain Spence was a man of sterling integrity and stood very high in the community where he had so long lived, not only because of his character but because of his capabilities as a citizen and the fine qualities which brought him a very large number of warm friendships. [9]

Capt. Spence’s brother Thomas last appears on the 1870 Jasper County Census. He may have returned to Illinois or relocated elsewhere, or he may have died. I could find no record for him after that year. His other brother Fletcher (John Fletcher Spence) was in the area earlier and then removed to Florida. An item from the December 17, 1885 issue of The Carthage Press notes:

Fletcher Spence, brother of Capt. Spence, recently left the sunny regions of Florida for western Illinois. He was raised in Illinois and had lived some time in this state previous to going to Florida. The reason he left Florida was that he had been having the shakes. [10]

Fletcher probably died in Illinois. I could find no further record for him.

One of the earliest memories of Capt. Spence in Jasper County is told by Judge Wesley Ralston in The Carthage Press:

Capt. Spence and I joined farms. Each had a three-rail fence around our residences. We tried to practice economy in those days. The captain employed an old tailor by the name of Brown living in our neighborhood to make him a suit of Kentucky jeans and as soon as I saw him with the suit on, I resolved to have one too. The tailor was a man of very close habits and made my suit correspondingly close, and you ought to have seen me when I made my debut. I made a spectacle [11]

Life in Carthage was good for Capt. James Spence, as is evidenced by the following newspaper account:

Captain James Spence and family went to the country yesterday and visited with Mr. James Ralston and family, partaking bountifully of the good things from their well-spread table. They also viewed the new house Mr. Ralston has almost completed and pronounced it a good home in every particular. [12]

On November 11, 1868, Capt. Spence married Mary Elizabeth Hood (1849-1880) in Carthage, Missouri. Betsy Hood was the daughter of Norris C. Hood, Sr. (1811-1870) and Melinda Bond (1812-1862). They had two daughters.

  1. Inez Spence (1871-1897)
  2. Nelle Spence (1875-1942).

Betsy died in 1880, and Capt. Spence’s second wife was Emma C. Corwine (1861-1930), daughter of George Corwine (1817-1898) and Lydia McCollister (b. 1828), whom he married October 30, 1880 in Carthage. They had one child:

  1. Walter Spence (1884-1899).

From the early 1880s through the late 1890s, The Carthage Press noted a series of events taking place in the James Spence household. The first was a surprise birthday party for the Captain in 1886:

Capt. Spence was the victim of a genuine “surprise” last night by the sudden and unceremonious appearance of a host of his friends, intent upon celebrating the birthday anniversary of the Captain, who had scarcely realized that another year was added to his terrestrial sojourn. An enjoyable evening was passed and now the Captain realizes that there is one woman at least, can keep a secret as it is evident his wife was in this scheme that was to him such a perfect surprise. [13]

In 1892, Capt. Spence accepted a new position in Carthage:

Capt. James Spence has accepted a position as clerk in Walter Wells grocery store and will begin his new duties tomorrow. Capt. Spence is an experienced salesman and Mr. Wells is said to be congratulated on the acquisition to his force.[14]

In 1896, James Spence’s daughter, Nell (from his first marriage) became engaged to Orville D. Royse:

  1. D. Royse left last night for St. Louis and will on Wednesday evening be united in marriage to Miss Nell Spence. The happy couple will arrive in Carthage on Thursday morning and will go to housekeeping in a cottage on South Garrison Avenue. Miss Spence is a well known and popular Carthage girl who has held for several months an important position as a stenographer in St. Louis. Mr. Royse is a rising young attorney and has hosts of friends. The congratulation of all their friends is extended. [15]

Then came a time of testing for Capt. James Spence and his wife Emma when their 15-year old son was suddenly killed in an electrical accident.



Walter Spence Electrocuted Last Night


The Body Received Electricity for ten Minutes Before the Wire Could be Cut–Nonen Hurry Had a Close Call–Sarcoxie Man Shocked

Walter Spence, a bright and promising boy, the only son of Capt. and Mrs. James Spence, lies cold in death, the result of a terrible accident which occurred in this city a few minutes before 8 o’clock last night.

The young man was coming west on Fourth street and as he passed the Commercial hotel reached up and took hold of a dead telephone wire which had come loose and had been wrapped around the east post of the hotel porch. It was an innocent looking wire, but was in contact with a live electric wire somewhere in its course, and the dampness of the weather favored the transition of the current to the dead wire with unusual force. The moment the boy touched the wire he was thrown violently to the pavement, the wire still grasped in his hand with convulsive force. He lay there fully ten minutes, receiving the entire force of the current before the wire could be cut and the current thus shut off. The first force of this electricity undoubtedly instantly killed him. His only visible injury was on his right hand, where he grasped the wire, the ends of the fingers being burned to the bone and the bones even being charred.

The circumstances leading up to the accident were these. For some time Walter had been in charge of the night service of the Missouri & Kansas Telephone Company office in this city. Early yesterday evening it was noticed that their system of wires were somewhere in contact with some powerful electric light or power current, as several of the number drops kept falling without being rung up and part of the switch board was burned out. While the cause and remedy for this was being sought out. Deputy Williams came up to the office with a message that their telephone at the jail needed attention as the bell was ringing ….

Walter went promptly to the jail and remedied the trouble by cutting out that telephone. He started back at once to the office believing that other telephones were likely the cause and would need immediate attention. Accompanying the young man was Earl Laubach, son of Councilman F. G. Laubach of East Third Street, who was a chum of Walter–spending a part of the evening with him. Earl says that on their return, as they approached the Commercial hotel, Walter said, “Here’s something loose. I will see what’s the matter with it,” or words to that effect. These were the last words he uttered. As he said them, he stepped to the outer edge of the walk and reached up and grasped the wire, which was wrapped loosely around the post of the hotel porch. As he did so he received the full force of the current as mentioned above, and fell headlong to the pavement, his head and shoulder lying out in the gutter. The deadly wire was not only clinched tightly in his right hand but part of it lay across his body, the electricity…and lighting up the surrounding area wherever it touched him…

His companion, Earl Laubach, called loudly for help, and the first to reach him were Willis Wallingford and Earl Curry, who was across the street in the H C Grieps bicycle shop. Charles Howell of 845 East Street, who works at the Excelsior Laundry and was standing at the Opera House corner also reached him about the same time. Neither of the four boys could do a thing, however. They dared not touch the body as they were inexperienced in electrical matters.

Body Taken Home

Walter Spence was born in Carthage and was 15 years old on September 30 last. He had been attending the night telephone services since last July. He was a bright member of the sophomore class in the high school and was a very capable and energetic boy, much liked by all who knew him.

Besides his father and mother, there survives him a half sister, Mrs. O. D. Royse of Joplin. She was notified late last night and arrived here this morning.[16]

Walter Spence’s funeral was held November 2, 1899, per the following account in The Carthage Press:

The funeral of Walter Spence occurred this afternoon at 2:00 at the family home on Central Avenue and was tended by a large concourse of people. The house was filled to capacity and many stood on the porch and yard.

The floral offerings were the most profuse and elaborate which have been seen in Carthage in many a day. They completely covered the casket and made a dense bank in front and beside it.

A lyre of chrysanthemums and lilies was sent by the pupils of the high school; a floral piece of two hears was sent by a group of pupils from the central school, a large and beautiful design “gates afar” was sent by the brothers and a sister of Mrs. Spence. , a cluster of roses was sent by the matrimonial club, of which Mrs. Royse is a member, a pillow of roses, ??? a harp and a number of other ??? set pieces was sent by individuals besides numerous less pretentious floral offerings.

Rev. A. J. Wagner delivered a most appropriate and touching funeral discourse in which he referred feelingly to the peculiar sadness of bereavement and spoke words of comfort to the sorrowing parents, relatives and friends. His eulogy of the departed boy was fitting and appropriate and found a ready echo in the hearts of the listeners, among nearly all of whom Walter Spence was well known and well liked. The pastors words deeply touched all present and there was hardly a dry eye within the sound of his voice.

The active pallbearers were Prof. Gray. Prof. Howland, Lewis Manley, George Webster, Harry Alexander and R. J. Wright. The honorary pall bearers were Charlie Bartlett, Earl Laubach, Claude Murdock and George Friend.

Music for the occasion was furnished by a choir comprising of Mrs. Maud Murdock and George Radcliff and Messrs Euclid Woodmansee and Frank Wells. A long line of carriages followed the remains to Park Cemetery where the internment took place.[17]

Capt. James Spence and his family are buried in Park Cemetery in Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri. His daughter, Inez, died in 1897, probably in childbirth. She married Samuel Wilson Ornduff on May 6, 1896 in Carthage and died in December, 1897. Nelle Spence married Orville D. Royse in St. Louis and lived until 1942. After the death of his first wife, Capt Spence and Inez moved lived with the Thomas Garland family, where they appear on the 1880 Jasper County Census and where he is listed as a grocerer and widowed. Nelle lived with the Ralston family. Capt. Spence’s children were reunited with him after his marriage to Emma Corwine.

The uncles of Capt James Spence spread out all over the country:

  • Alston Spence died in Pasquotank, North Carolina in 1836.
  • Joseph Spence died in Independence, Clay County, Missouri in 1876.
  • Jeremiah Spence died in Walton, Florida in 1850.
  • Willis Spence died in Greene County, Missouri in 1875.
  • Robert Spence remained in Davidson, North Carolina and died there in 1843.
  • John Spence (Capt. James Spence’s father) died in Adams County, Illinois in 1866.
  • Daniel Spence died in Randolph County, North Carolina in 1882.
  • Mark Spence died after 1860 in Adams County, Illinois
  • Thornton Spence last appeared in North Carolina in 1860. By 1867, he was in Butte County, California, where he remained through 1879. He is last found in Illinois on the  1880 Census, where he is listed as a mechanic.

In addition:

  • Norris C. Hood, the first father-in-law of Capt. James Spence, was a brother of Joel and David K. Hood, who resided in Jasper County. Norris C. Hood was the sheriff who rescued the Jasper County treasury from the bushwhackers during the Civil War. Joel Hood (my 3rd great-grandfather) relocated to Benton County, Arkansas. David K. Hood spent the rest of his life on his farm in Jasper County.


There is a sequel to this story that happened within the last five years. I wrote the initial draft of this story over five years ago for my original website: Historical Footprints 2010. This sequel happened since then.

My mother passed away in 2003. After her passing, all of her picture albums were sent to me. I was teaching at the time and didn’t have time to go through all of that stuff until after my retirement in 2009. Around 2012 or 2013,I was going through an album that belonged to my Grandmother Spence, and I found a folded piece of paper at the front of the album.

“What’s this?” I wondered.

After unfolding it, I received a wonderful surprise: a handwritten history called The Sterns Family History–my grandmother’s mother’s family history. It was compiled in 1976. Finding information on the Sterns family has really been a problem for me. This history gave me a start, and I have been able to develop it from there. I do not know who compiled it.

No doubt, Grandma kept that history inside her trunk. In 1976, she was still living in her little house in Marion, Iowa, and the trunk was kept down in the basement. I know she went into senior living around 1980. Her house was sold, and the contents were either sold or distributed among other relatives. I don’t know what happened to the trunk. I think my mother’s sister took it, but she didn’t want all the stuff inside it. She probably found the history and gave it to my mother.

“Here–put this in her picture album.”

Mom put it inside the album. Grandma passed away in 1981. And that Sterns family history was not rediscovered and incorporated into my family tree until around 2012 or 2013.

Another item rescued from the trunk!


[1] James Spence Obituary, The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, March 13, 1922.

[2] Henry Reeves and Mary J Davis Shoaf, Compilers. Davidson County, North Carolina Will Summaries, Vol. 1. Publisher: Mrs. Mary Jo Davis Shoaf, Lexington, North Carolina, 1979.

[3] “List of Counties in North Carolina” from the Wikipedia Website:

[4] List of Counties in North Carolina” from the Wikipedia Website:

[5] Henry Reeves and Mary J Davis Shoaf, Compilers. Davidson County, North Carolina Will Summaries, Vol. 1. Publisher: Mrs. Mary Jo Davis Shoaf, Lexington, North Carolina, 1979.

[6] 1850 and 1860 Census Records, John Spence Family, Adams County, Illinois. Available at

[7] James Spence Obituary, The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, March 13, 1922.

[8] The Carthage Press, May 21, 1891

[9] James Spence Obituary, The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, March 13, 1922.

[10] Local News, The Carthage Press, December 17, 1885

[11] Old Reminiscences of Carthage. The Carthage Press, January 16, 1902.

[12] Local News, The Carthage Press, April 15, 1885.

[13] Local News, The Carthage Press, March 18, 1886.

[14] Local News, The Carthage Press, January 26, 1892.

[15] The Carthage Press, May 7, 1896.

[16] Instantly Killed. The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, October 26, 1899.

[17] The Funeral of Walter Spence. The Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri, November 2, 1899.


Who Killed John Bass Jones?–Part 2: The Odyssey of Mrs. Ady


Myra Maybelle Shirley--a/k/a Belle Starr--the way she looked when she lived in Carthage, Missouri. From my photo collection. Original source unknown.

Myra Maybelle Shirley–a/k/a Belle Starr–the way she looked when she lived in Carthage, Missouri. From my photo collection. Original source unknown.

Of the cast of characters emerging from the 1880 John Bass Jones grand jury murder investigation in Jasper Co., Missouri, one person stands out as an interesting question mark, inviting further examination. As I read through the Carthage Banner story appearing in Part 1 of this article, I wondered about Mrs. Ady and the extent of her involvement in the matter. Judging from the newspaper article, Mrs. Ady changed her testimony considerably between the time of the coroner’s inquest in 1867 and the grand jury investigation in 1880. Not only did her testimony change drastically, but her name appears in several households in the area throughout the period. After piecing the sections of her testimony together and comparing her testimony with available marriage, census, tax and death records, I finally came up with an answer to the question Who was Mrs. Ady?

Elizabeth A. Foster was born in November 1840 to Jarrett Foster (1795/1800-aft. 1875) and Dorcas Moseley (1803-aft. Aug. 8, 1865) in Bradley Co., Tennessee. She was born with a pedigree chart extending back to the Kings and Queens of England, with elements of Scarlet O’Hara (Gone With the Wind), Ashton Maine Huntoon (The North and the South), and Kate Trask (East of Eden) in her character. Her parents were born in South Carolina and lived in Union County. The family also had ties extending back to Goochland Co., Virginia, inhabited by the Spencer, Toney and Jones families, whose descendants later settled in Jasper Co., Missouri.

According to the Cunningham/Webster Family Tree on, Jarrett and Dorcas Foster had the following children:

John Foster, (b. 1823, South Carolina; m. Jane [Surname Unknown] Feb. 9, 1860, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. aft. 1870, Jasper Co., Missouri.) A boy with an unknown name (b. 1825, South Carolina). Lucinda Foster (b. 1828, Tennessee). [No additional information.] Sarah Foster (b. 1830, Tennessee). [No additional information.] Martha Foster (b. 1836, Tennessee). [No additional information.] Elizabeth Foster (b. 1839/40, Tennessee). [Subject of this article]. Andrew J. Foster (b. Feb. 15, 1842, East Tennessee; m. Anna C. 1873; d. 1928, State Soldiers Home, Orting, Washington). Francis Marion Foster (b. Jan. 1846, Arkansas; m. Emily Jane Coffelt Aug. 5, 1866, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. February 7, 1928, Joplin, Missouri.)[1].

In 1850, the Jarrett Foster family appears in Jackson Tp., District 41, Jasper Co., Missouri, according to the census record for that year. The listing shows:

Jarrett Foster, age 55, engaged in farming, b. South Carolina Dorcas Foster, age 49, b. South Carolina (person over 20 unable to read or write) Lucinda J. Foster, age 22, b. Tennessee (reading/writing column left blank) Sarah Foster, age 20, b. Tennessee (attending school) Martha E. Foster, age 14, b. Tennessee (attending school) Elizabeth Foster, age 10, b. Tennessee (attending school) Andrew J. Foster, age 8, b. Tennessee (attending school) Francis M. Foster, age 4, b. Tennessee[2].

The 1850 Census also shows another family residing in District 41–a primarily rural area–listed as follows:

John Shirley, age 54, engaged in farming, b. Virginia Eliza Shirley, age 49, b. Virginia; Charlotte A. Shirley, age 12, b. Indiana; John A. M. Shirley, age 8, b. Missouri; Myra Shirley, age 2, b. Missouri; Benton Shirley, age 9 mos., b. Missouri[3].

Myra Maybelle Shirley grew up to become the Bandit Queen– Belle Starr.

John Shirley has often been labeled the “black sheep” of the family who eventually moved to Indiana and married and divorced twice in that state. His third wife, Eliza Pennington-sometimes referred to as Eliza Hatfield-came from the Hatfield-McCoy vendetta in West Virginia and Kentucky. They were married May 29, 1837 in Green Tp., Grant Co., Indiana. According to the Walters Family Tree at, John Shirley’s oldest son was Preston Raymond Shirley, and he was born to John and his first wife, Nancy Fowler. John and his first wife were married April 6, 1818 in Clark Co., Indiana. John’s second wife was Fannie, whom he married in 1829. Preston married Mary A. Chelson on May 26, 1847, Jasper Co., Missouri and appears on the 1850 Census in a separate household in District 41[4].

Undoubtedly, the two families knew each other. The Foster and Shirley parents were in the same age group and came from the same region of the country. Martha and Elizabeth Foster may have associated with Charlotte Shirley and probably with Myra Maybelle as well. Despite John Shirley’s tendency toward the wild side, the Shirley line in Virginia extends back to some of the finest families in the region. Shirley and Foster ancestors intermarried over the years, so the girls were possibly distant cousins.

Fortune changed for the John Shirley family. In 1856, Shirley sold his farm and moved into the town of Carthage, the county seat of Jasper County, where he built an inn, tavern, livery stable and a blacksmith shop-an enterprise that took up a whole city block! This tavern eventually became a rendezvous for a number of Missouri outlaws including the James brothers, the Younger brothers, and others. Needless to say, the Shirleys  became quite wealthy and spoiled their daughter, Myra, with all the material things that money could buy[5]. According to American Legends: Old West Legends-Belle Starr-The Bandit Queen:

At first, Myra Belle lived the life of a spoiled, rich girl, attending the Carthage Female Academy, where in addition to the basics, she was taught music and classical languages. She was a bright student, with polite manners, and a talent for playing the piano. However, she also liked to flaunt her status a “rich girl” and liked having an audience. She also loved the outdoors, where she spent many a day roaming the countryside with her older brother Bud, who taught her how to ride a horse and handle a gun [6].

I remember reading an old newspaper account about Belle Starr years ago in The Cedar Rapids Gazette stating that the outlaws and bushwhackers who later frequented her father’s establishment taught her how to curse and swear! I may still have that article in an old scrapbook.

Elizabeth Foster no doubt witnessed young Myra’s activities. Quite possibly, she developed a feeling of envy.  Glamor, danger, and excitement appealed to young Elizabeth. And Myra Maybelle Shirley definitely had all of those “qualities.”

The balance of the 1850s passed quietly for these people. Then came the 1860s.

The 1860 Census for Jasper Co., Missouri shows the Jarrett Foster family still residing in Marion Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri (located north of Carthage), but with fewer members: 60 year-old Jarrett Foster; 57 year-old Dorcas; 19 year-old Elizabeth; 18 year-old Andrew J.; and, 14 year-old Francis M. The other children are gone, whether through marriage or death. The listing for the John Shirley family shows 66 year-old John Shirley; 45 year-old Eliza; 18 year-old Allison; 12 year-old Myra; 11 year-old Edwin; 8 year-old Mansfield; and, 2 year-old Cravens. The John Shirley Census record is dated June 28, 1860 while the Jarrett Foster Census record is dated July 3, 1860. But these two census records aren’t the only important records for 1860. 1860 was a banner year for marriages in the Foster family[7].

The 1860 Marriage Record Book for Jasper County shows the following:

John Foster to Julia Ann Coffelt. [The date is unreadable. This would be a second marriage for John’s wife since they are shown on the 1860 Census in the town of Jasper, Jasper Co., Missouri with a blended family of Fosters and Coffelts.]

Jeremiah Foster to Sarah Jane Keith. April 13, 1860. [As yet I do not know the relationship between Jeremiah Foster and Jarrett Foster.

Elizabeth Foster to John D. Jones December 20, 1860[8]

Thus began a new chapter in the life of Elizabeth Foster Jones.

A son of Lewis Jones and Milly Catherine Spence Jones, John David Jones was born in 1827 in Davidson Co., Tennessee. John David Jones and John Bass Jones were first cousins [See Part 1 of this article.] The Lewis Jones Family and the Daniel Spence Family left Tennessee for Jasper Co., Missouri in 1836. Daniel’s oldest brother, Samuel, followed them there the following year in 1837. In 1840, Samuel and Elizabeth Inman Spence donated land for the first church building in Southwest Missouri. Located at Moss Springs, the land became the location of the Freedom Baptist Church and a cemetery called Moss Springs. The church was organized in May 1840 and operated until it was disbanded in 1880. While the old church building was torn down in the late 1800s, the cemetery still exists and is currently well maintained.

Members and builders of the church in 1840 included Elder Greenville Spencer (1840-1853); Jetson M. Keith (Clerk) (1848); Samuel and Elizabeth Spence (donated land for the church); Daniel Spence, Woodson Angel, William Clow, Jeremiah Gilstrap, Jacob Hammer, Ephraim Jenkins, James Jones, John Jones, Lewis Jones, Captain Nelson Knight, Joseph Schultz, and William H. Farmer[9]

John Jones, who is listed on this monument, was the father of John Bass Jones. James Jones and Lewis Jones–the husband of Milly Catherine Spence–were brothers.

Lewis Jones died in September 1849 and his son, John David Jones, became head of the family. The Jones farm was located in District 41 (where the Fosters and Shirleys lived.) The Fosters and Shirleys were still living there in 1850 when the John D. Jones family appeared on the 1850 census in District 41 for Jasper County, as follows:

John D. Jones, age 22, born in Tennessee Milly Jones, age 48, born in North Carolina. (She was the widow of Lewis Jones and mother of John.) Nancy J, age 18, born in Tennessee. (Milly’s daughter and John D.’s sister) James R., age 15, born in Tennessee. (Milly’s son and John D.’s brother).

[Milly Spence Jones was a person over 20 who could not read or write. The others were able to do so][10].

By 1860, the family appears as follows:

Milly Jones, age 58 John D. Jones, age 31 James R. Jones, age 25 John L. Jones, age 14, b. Missouri George W. Jones, age 12, b. Missouri Laurlin Jones, age 7, b. Missouri Daniel Gill, age 19, b. Tennessee Norris F. Hood, age 28, b. Tennessee Nancy J. Hood, age 28, b. Tennessee Laura E. Hood, age 3, b. Missouri Alice A. Hood, age 3, b. Missouri Charles A. Hood, age 1, b. Missouri[11].

Milly Jones’ house became a sea of activity. Her daughter, Nancy, married Norris F. Hood, and the Hood children were theirs. Daniel Gill was a son of Michael and Rhoda Spence Gill (Rhoda was Milly’s sister). John L. Jones (age 14), George W. Jones (age 12), and Lurlin Jones (age 7), all born in Missouri, came from one of the Jones families in the area, but as yet, I haven’t identified that family. John D. Jones and Elizabeth Foster married December 20, 1860, and one more person entered the household. Then the Civil War erupted the following year, rendering a permanent impact on the lives of these people.

The Battle of Carthage was fought July 5, 1861 on a field nine to ten miles north of Carthage. Often labeled the first land battle of the Civil War, the fight ended in a victory for the South. According to the National Park Service:

“Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon had chased Governor Claiborne Jackson and approximately 4,000 State Militia from the State Capital at Jefferson City and from Boonville, and pursued them. Col. Franz Sigel led another force of about 1,000 into southwest Missouri in search of the governor and his loyal troops.

“Upon learning that Sigel had encamped at Carthage, on the night of July 4, Jackson took command of the troops with him and formulated a plan to attack the much smaller Union force. The next morning, Jackson closed up to Sigel, established a battle line on a ridge ten miles north of Carthage, and induced Sigel to attack him.

“Opening with artillery fire, Sigel closed to the attack. Seeing a large Confederate force-actually unarmed recruits-moving into the woods on his left, he feared that they would turn his flank. He withdrew. The Confederates pursued, but Sigel conducted a successful rearguard action.

“By evening, Sigel was inside Carthage and under cover of darkness; he retreated to Sarcoxie. The battle had little meaning, but the pro-Southern elements in Missouri, anxious for any good news, championed their first victory.” Location of the Battle: Jasper County, Missouri

Purpose of Campaign: Operations to Control Missouri during 1861

Date of the battle: July 5, 1861

Principal Commanders: Col. Franz Sigel [US] Governor Claiborne Jackson [CSA]

Forces Engaged: Brigade [US] Missouri State Guard divisions [CSA]

Estimated Casualties: 244 total (US 44; CSA 200) (From the Awesome Stories Website)[12].

The Battle of Wilson’s Creek occurred the following month on August 10, 1861:

Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon’s Army of the West was camped at Springfield, Missouri, with Confederate troops under the commands of Brig. Gen. Benjamin McCulloch approaching. On August 9, both sides formulated plans to attack the other. At about 5:00 a.m. on August 10, Lyon, in two columns commanded by himself and Col. Franz Sigel, attacked the Confederates on Wilson’s Creek about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Springfield. Rebel cavalry received the first blow and fell back away from Bloody Hill. Confederate forces soon rushed up and stabilized their positions.

The Confederates attacked the Union forces three times that day but failed to break through the Union line. When General Lyon was killed during the battle and General Sweeny wounded, Major Samuel D. Sturgis assumed command. Meanwhile, the Confederates had routed Sigel’s column, south of Skegg’s Branch. Following the third Confederate attack, which ended at 11:00 a.m., the Confederates withdrew. Sturgis realized, however, that his men were exhausted and his ammunition was low, so he ordered a retreat to Springfield. The Confederates were too disorganized and ill-equipped to pursue. This Confederate victory buoyed southern sympathizers in Missouri and served as a springboard for a bold thrust north that carried Price and his Missouri State Guard as far as Lexington. In late October, a rump convention, convened by Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson, met in Neosho and passed out an ordinance of secession. Wilson’s Creek, the most significant 1861 battle in Missouri, gave the Confederates control of southwestern Missouri. (From CWSAC Battle Summaries Website, The American Battlefield Protection Program, Heritage Preservation Services, Available online at[13].

Frank James, the brother of Jesse James, fought at Wilson’s Creek, and returned home to Clay County as the “conquering hero.” Young Jesse must have greeted him with a feeling of pride and envy. However, Frank’s victory was short-lived the following spring at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. The Wikipedia site notes:

The Battle of Pea Ridge (also known as Elkhorn Tavern) was a land battle of the American Civil War, fought on March 6-8, 1862, at Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas, near Garfield. In the battle, Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis defeated Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn. The outcome of the battle essentially cemented Union control of Missouri. The battle was one of the few during the war in which a Confederate army outnumbered its Union opponent[14].

Frank James was sick with the measles in Springfield, Missouri, where he was taken prisoner by the Union Army. At that stage in the war, both sides waited until they had a certain number of prisoners. Then they would exchange them. Frank James signed a promise not to fight any more. Perhaps he had his fingers crossed.

The people of Jasper Co., Missouri were caught up in the middle of the conflict, and feelings ran high. Families were divided in their allegiances. Bushwhacker activity was high in the area, targeting their attacks on Union sympathizers. There are many unmarked graves in the Moss Springs Cemetery of people who were killed during this time-a practice followed to keep enemies from digging up the graves and dumping bodies on top of the ground, or hauling them off to let them rot in a field.  Western Missouri was a scene of constant conflict during the Civil War. Highway 71, which runs north and south from Kansas City through Carthage to the Arkansas border, saw constant movement of Confederate troops while Highway 69 on the Kansas side-running north and south between Kansas City, Kansas and Fort Scott, Kansas down to the Oklahoma border–witnessed similar activity involving Union troops. John Shirley’s hotel in Carthage became a gathering point for Quantrill’s men. Shirley’s association with Clay County personalities dated back to the early 1850s when his name appeared on a deed in a land transaction involving Harry W. Younger (Henry [Harry] Washington Younger)-the father of Cole Younger-for 160 acres of land in Jasper County[15]. Shirley was Younger’s assignee in that transaction, which was dated June 1, 1850. In addition, John Shirley’s son, John (“Bud”) Alexander Shirley, and his future son-in-law James C. Reed both served with Quantrill. Bud was a captain in the outfit. Myra Maybelle Shirley (the future Belle Starr) assisted Quantrill by informing the guerillas of Union troop movements. The Shirley family was closely tied to the James and Younger families of Clay County. The Reed family lived in Bates and Vernon Counties, north of Jasper County.

The Quantrill raid and massacre at Lawrence, Kansas occurred August 21, 1863. Four days later, Order No. 11 was issued by Gen. Thomas Ewing on August 25. This order impacted the lives of southern sympathizers in four western Missouri counties: Bates, Cass, Jackson and Vernon. The Order mandated that all non-Union sympathizers be expelled from the county and ordered their homes burned. Many innocent people who were not involved in guerilla activities were impacted by this order. In addition, many of the enforcers were Kansas volunteers who were not especially fond of Missourians. Expelling pro-Southerners from the four counties greatly impacted neighboring counties and other areas throughout the region. And violence continued.

In 1864, the John Shirley family fled to Sycene, Texas shortly before Carthage was burned, a fire that destroyed his enterprise. John Shirley’s guerilla-fighting son “Bud” was killed in Sarcoxie that same year [16].

The Samuel Spence family was divided during the Civil War. Some pro-Union members of the family relocated to safer areas in Kansas for the duration of the war (Lazarus Spence and William David Spence–my second great-grandfather, for example). The pro-Southern side of the family split into two groups. The earliest group to leave Missouri settled in Benton Co., Arkansas while the rest of the family remained in Jasper County until they were no longer safe there. Then they fled to Grayson Co., Texas. Some of them remained in Grayson County, while others eventually relocated to Washington Co., Arkansas. One of Samuel’s sons, Newton Jasper Spence (1841-1882), fought with the Confederate Army at Helena, Arkansas, where he was wounded and taken prisoner. He was placed in Alton Prison in Illinois, and was later transferred to Fort Delaware. When he was finally paroled at the end of the war, he did not return to Jasper County. His life was in danger there. So he settled in Oklahoma, married and raised his family there[17].

The John David Jones family appears to have remained in Jasper County as long as they could. John and Elizabeth’s first child-a son-Thomas A. Jones-was born in 1862. A daughter-Hettie-was born in 1864. William H. Jones was born in 1866. 1880 Census records indicate that all three of these children were born in Missouri. In all likelihood, the family was largely pro-Southern, although they didn’t engage in guerilla activities. If they were forced to leave, they would have relocated to Benton Co., Arkansas (where a number of John’s Joneses had already settled).

By August 8, 1865, Jarrett Foster was living in Marmaton, Bourbon Co., Kansas with his wife Dorcas and their two sons: A. J. Foster (age 23), who served in the 2nd Kansas Battery, and Marion Foster (age 19), where they appear on the tax records. Jarrett Foster’s family is next shown on the 1870 Census for Westralia, Montgomery Co., Kansas, where G. Foster (age 73), D. Foster (age 67), A. J. Foster (age 27), A. Price (age 15), and W. H. Evilsizer (age 19) appear. Dorcas’s name does not appear on the 1875 tax record for Cherokee Tp., Montgomery Co., Kansas, so she would have died between 1870 and 1875. F. M. Foster (age 27), E. J. Foster (age 29), James ?? (age 7) appear on the record with 79-year old Jarrett. Jarrett Foster died between 1875 and 1880[18],[19]

The John David Jones family members were all at home the Spring of 1867 when John Bass Jones arrived in Jasper County and stayed with them. John Bass Jones was shot and killed early in the morning of April 17-a case that is still a mystery. Family members all participated in the coroner’s inquest in 1867, but no charges were filed at that time. There was not enough evidence to charge anyone. The Joneses remained in Jasper County and then on September 28, 1870, John David Jones died. He is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery in the same row with John Bass Jones.

The prospects for a widow in the late nineteenth century were few and far between. Elizabeth Foster Jones was 29 years old when her husband died. She was also pregnant with their fourth child. John Charles Jones was born January 27, 1871 in Fidelity, Jasper Co., Missouri.

Elizabeth probably took stock of her life and her options during this period of time. She did not look forward to staying on the farm with a house full of in-laws. And there had to be more excitement in life than cleaning, cooking, and having babies. At some point, she made the determination to leave her children with her mother-in-law and visit her family in Kansas for a while. No doubt she told the Joneses that she might be gone for a month or two. She needed to get away for a while. So she left Jasper County and joined her family in Westralia, Montgomery Co., Kansas.

Undoubtedly, she was at a low point when she arrived in Kansas. But her family members no doubt cheered her up with stories. After all, she once knew so many people! Whatever happened to them? That’s when Belle Shirley’s name came up in the conversation with the year 1866 as a starting point. “1866?” Elizabeth must have wondered. “That was the year before John Bass Jones was murdered!”

In 1866, the James-Younger Gang is credited with robbing the bank in Liberty, Missouri. Jesse and Frank James and the Younger boys fled to Texas, where they met up with the Shirley family once again. On November 1, 1866, Belle married James C. Reed, her old flame from Missouri. A picture has recently surfaced on the internet from that wedding. [Stories about her love affair with Cole Younger are exaggerated.] Those in attendance included Jesse and Frank James (and their little half-brother, Perry Samuel), Confederate General Joseph Shelby, John Newman Edwards (the newspaper man who promoted the James Gang), Archie Clement, Jim Younger, William Gregg, and John “King” Fisher[20]. At the time of their marriage, Jim Reed had not committed any acts that would classify him as an outlaw-something that appealed to Belle’s family. By 1867, Jim and Belle Shirley Reed were living on the Reed farm in Missouri. According to the American Legends website:

“But, when the two moved to Missouri, Reed was a wanted man, allegedly for murdering a man named Shannon. The two fled to California with their young daughter Pearl and before long a second child came along who they named Edward. In 1869 Belle, Reed and two other outlaws rode to the North Canadian river country, where they tortured an old Creek Indian until he told them where he had hidden $30,000 in gold. With their share of the loot, Jim and Belle returned to Texas, where she played the role of “Bandit Queen” to the hilt”[21].

When Elizabeth began hearing stories concerning the activities of her childhood acquaintance, she no doubt fantasized about those stories. Belle was leading a dangerous lifestyle but to Elizabeth, that lifestyle was more preferable to her own allotment in life.

In her testimony given at the 1880 grand jury investigation into the death of John Bass Jones, Elizabeth Ady claims to have married William Spencer after the death of her husband, John David Jones -then “dumped” him and went to Galena, Kansas, where she lived on Red Hot Street, where she supposedly met A. J. Ady. I have yet to find a license for her marriage to either A. J. Ady or to William Spencer, so I don’t know where or exactly when they were married. And the town of Galena, Kansas did not “boom” until lead was discovered there in 1877. A problem exists with the timeline of her testimony. After piecing together census records, tax records and the births of her children, I may have found some of the answers.

Elizabeth no doubt divided her time between Jasper Co., Missouri-where her children were staying– and Montgomery Co., Kansas-where her family members lived. By 1873, she met A. J. Ady in Kansas. How or where is open to speculation.

According to the 1850 Census for Geneva, Jennings, Indiana, Andrew J. Ady was born in Ohio about 1842 to Loyd and Elizabeth M. Ady. The household includes: Loyd Ady (age 38); Elizabeth M. Ady (age 30); Loyd L. D. Ady (age 10); Andrew J. Ady (age 8); Nancy A. Ady (age 6); Isaac S. B. Ady (age 3); Lucinda Ady (age 1); Lovina C. Fola (age 19); Samuel Fola (age 3); William H. Fola (age 1) [22].

In 1862, Andrew J. Ady (spelled Adye) appears on the tax list for District 2, Bridgeport, Indiana as a retail liquor dealer. By 1865, he was in Clarke Tp., in District 2, Indiana, where he is listed as a retail dealer, and he is taxed for a carriage, a gold watch, and he is also taxed for his income[23]. In 1866, he is listed in Adyville, Indiana and is taxed as a retail dealer who has a carriage and a gold watch. In December 1866, he had moved to Illinois, where he was taxed for keeping a stallion. He next appears on the March 1, 1875 tax records for Wild Cat, Howard Co., Kansas with a wife and a daughter. When analyzed, this record becomes quite interesting and invites further speculation[24].

Andrew Ady no doubt arrived in Kansas as a whisky drummer. If Elizabeth Foster Jones was really looking for a life style similar to that of her old acquaintance (Belle Shirley), she may have started seeking companionship in nearby towns. She kept a low profile as she didn’t want to alert her family to her new enterprise. A flashy drummer with a line of gab, a stylish carriage, a stallion and a gold watch would have captured her interest almost immediately. I doubt there was much of a courtship. She would have married him immediately and sent word back to Missouri that she had remarried. No doubt she planned to return for her children as soon as possible. In all likelihood, she did not tell A.J. about the children from her first marriage.

Before she knew it, she was expecting. A. J. settled down in Howard County to become a farmer-something Elizabeth didn’t plan on or like. Their daughter (whose name is known only by the initials M.E.) was born in 1874 and was one year old by the 1875 tax record. Elizabeth appears to have been creative with her information on that tax record. It’s possible that she never used her real name with A.J. She knew that he had lived in Indiana, so she gave Decatur Co., Indiana as her place of birth. (She really didn’t want to advertise the fact that she was born in Tennessee while living in Kansas!) She also made herself 10 years younger when giving her age, claiming to have been born about 1853. And she is listed only as Mrs. A. J. Ady. The other females on the page list a regular full first name, or else they use their own initials [25].

The little daughter whose name is only listed as M.E. must have died within the year. She is not listed after that record. And in 1875, Elizabeth discovered that she was pregnant again. I doubt she shared this news with her husband. She was not happy living on the farm with A. J. Ady, and she wanted to return to Missouri where her children were living. She knew that Milly Catherine Spence Jones was aging, and she felt a desperate need to get back there. She managed to slip away at the first opportune moment and may have obtained her brother’s help in returning to Missouri.

Her son, Earl E. Jones, was born in 1875 or 1876, probably after her return to Missouri. I can only imagine the story that she told the Jasper County people-that she had married a man named Jones in Kansas, and that he had died or disappeared. She did not share the Ady name with the Jasper County people at that time. But she was identified as Mrs. A. J. Ady during the April 1880 Grand Jury investigation. A Mr. Ady supposedly accompanied her from Kansas. She may have returned to Kansas, reunited with A. J. Ady, and then returned to Missouri with him for the hearing. After the hearing was over, she left him again for good and returned to Missouri. And there is another possibility: she may have been living with another man who returned to Missouri with her, posing as A. J. Ady!

Meanwhile, back in Kansas, Andrew J. Ady had no idea what happened to his wife on either occasion. After the second time, he finally gave up looking for her. By 1885, he is shown on the tax list for Boulder Co., Colorado-single-where he is listed as a miner. But he later remarried[26] By 1895, he appears on the tax list for Richland Tp., Gray Co., Kansas. His wife Amelia was from Germany[27] The family appears on the 1900 Census for Hess Tp., Gray Co., Kansas (located in southwest Kansas) as follows: Andrew J. Ady (spelled Aday) (b. April 1842, Ohio); Amelia M. (b. October 1860, Germany); Esther H. (b. July 1891, Kansas); Lafayette J. (b. Dec. 1893, Kansas); Cora B. (b. April 1898, Kansas); Dora A. (b. April 1898, Kansas) [28]. Andrew J. Ady died between that 1900 Census and the 1920 Census, probably in Whatcom County, Washington. Amelia last appears on the 1920 census for Whatcom Co., Washington as a widow living with Esther and Lafayette[29].

Milly Catherine Spence Jones died either shortly before or shortly after Elizabeth’s first return to Jasper County. I have found two dates of death for her. One is November 30, 1875. The other is March 1876. Either way, Elizabeth arrived just in time to reclaim her children from her first marriage[30][31].

She wasn’t in Jasper County for very long before realizing that she was in another predicament. She now had five children and no place where any of them could live. That’s when she turned her attention to William Spencer.

William Spencer had been living in Jasper Co., Missouri since the 1840s. Elizabeth would have remembered him from childhood. By 1875/1876, she was ready to settle down for a while and become reacquainted with her children. More than anything else, however, she wanted a new last name. She probably used the Jones name when she returned to Jasper County. She didn’t dare use the Ady name for fear A.J. Ady would find her. And she decided that Spencer would suit her just fine. After all, Spencer was a fine old name.

William Spencer was born May 4, 1817 in Hardin Co., Kentucky to Sharp Spencer (1770-1834) and Jenny Trigger Crady (1790-1844). His grandparents were John Spencer (1732-1789) and Rosanna Graves/Greaves (1735-1782). This is the same Graves/Greaves line I am descended from. Rosanna Graves/Greaves is my 1st cousin 7xs removed. Her father was Thomas Greaves/Graves (1691-1767), and her grandfather was John Greaves/Graves, Sr. (1665-1747)–my 7th great-grandfather. I descend from him through his daughter, Elizabeth Greaves (1707-1755)  and her husband James Spence (1702-1753)–my sixth great-grandparents!. So that explains the cousin relationship between the Jasper County, Missouri Spences and William Spencer! In addition, there is a connection between this Spencer line with John Spencer (b. 1788) and his second wife Rachel Key (b. 1805). Rachel was the sister of Lucy Key–Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence’s mother–and John Spencer was the half brother of William Spencer, under discussion here!. John was the son of Sharp Spencer and his first wife Martha Elizabeth Crenshaw (1772-1809). As yet, I haven’t determined how this Spencer line connects with mine through Elisha Spence’s first wife Susanna Spencer. That is something I’m still working on. But according to the Ancestry calculator, William Spencer is my 3rd cousin 5xs removed on the Greaves line!

On September 7, 1835, William Spencer married Jane Angel in Putnam Co., Indiana. (Her brother, Woodson Angel, was an original member of the Freedom Baptist Church at Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper Co., Missouri. His name appears on the monument at the cemetery entrance.) Jane Angel was born September 3, 1811 in Virginia to John Angel (1770-1850) and Isabella Truelove (1770-1850). The children of William Spencer and Jane Angel follow:

James Harvey Spencer 1832 – 1921 Mary Catherine SPENCER 1837 – 1912 Dorcas Tabitha Spencer 1841 – 1918 John M SPENCER 1841 – John Norris Spencer 1843 – Minerva J Spencer 1844 – William D SPENCER 1845 – Millie Emoline Spencer 1851 – 1916 Ananias SPENCER 1855 – 1936 [33].

William and Jane appear on the 1850 Census for Sarcoxie, Jasper Co., Missouri[34]. Pro-Union in sympathy, they were forced to leave Jasper County and appear on the May 5, 1865 Census for Mound City, Linn Co., Kansas, about 59 miles from Kansas City[35]. They returned to Jasper County after the war and on November 10, 1870, Jane Angel Spencer died. She is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. In 1876, William and Elizabeth were married. Their son William Hayes Spencer was born in 1877[36]. And after their son was born Elizabeth acquired the roving eye once again and started thinking about her options.

She did not want to stay married to William Spencer and have any more children by him. She left the Spencer baby with William and taking her own children from her first and second marriages, she probably headed for her brother’s house in Kansas. Francis Marion Foster was living in Cherokee, Montgomery Co., Kansas in 1875 but by 1880, he was in Coffeyville, Montgomery Co., Kansas[37]. William Spencer’s daughter, Milly E. Spencer, was in William’s household, along with a hired girl by the name of Lillie F. Slavens in 1880[38].

The Elizabeth Foster Jones Ady Spencer saga becomes really strange at this point, as can be seen in the 1880 Census for Jasper Co., Missouri. Two census records exist:

Union Tp, Jasper County, Missouri, June 22 and 23, 1880:

William Spencer (age 62) Elizabeth (age 39) [William’s wife] William Hayes (age 3) Lilly F. Slavens (age 16)-the hired servant Milly E. Spencer (age 27)-William’s daughter 2 Baby Spencer Girls (1 month old)-William and Elizabeth are designated the parents[39].

Elizabeth is described as debilitated and unable to leave her bed. She is supposed to have dysentery (called “flux” on the record). Not only that, the person giving the information knew very little about Elizabeth. According to the census record, Elizabeth was born in Indiana–she was actually born in Tennessee. The census record indicates Elizabeth’s parents were born in North Carolina. Both of Elizabeth’s parents were born in South Carolina. I don’t believe Elizabeth was in the house at all, based on the second record.

The second record is for Elizabeth Ady in the City of Carthage, Jasper County, Missouri June 14, 1880:

Elizabeth Ady (age 39) Thomas A. Jones (age 18)-son Hettie D. Jones (age 16)-daughter William H. Jones (age 13)-son John C. Jones (age 8)-son Earl E. Jones (age 5)-son[40].

Her next door neighbor is Edward S. Pike, the deputy sheriff referred to in the newspaper account of the grand jury investigation. (See Part 1 of this article). J. B. Buchanan also appears on the same street.

Another curiosity about this situation centers around the two unnamed one-month-old twin baby girl Spencers in William Spencer’s household on the 1880 Census. They would have been born in May. The grand jury investigation was the month before that in early April. If Elizabeth had been the mother, she would have been pregnant when she testified before the grand jury. If they were her babies, then she had them delivered to William Spencer after they were born. She was already living in Carthage in early April and not at William Spencer’s farm. Perhaps they had an agreement between them. He would provide her with a house in town if she would give him the child after it was born and trouble him no further. (They probably didn’t know that two children were expected.) She appears to have gladly given them up. William Hayes Spencer (who was 3 years old in 1880) also stayed with William. I think she also agreed not to use the Spencer name. And perhaps the Jones family did not want her using their name either. So, she became Elizabeth Ady once again. Sources in Kansas may have informed her that A.J. Ady had left for Colorado and was no longer in the area.

William Spencer died December 23, 1888 in Jasper Co., Missouri and is buried next to his first wife, Jane Angel Spencer, in the Moss Springs Cemetery. The charges against him and the other men in the John Bass Jones murder were never filed because of the lack of evidence against them.

I do not know what happened to his daughter, Milly E. Spencer, who was taking care of the young children, or to the young children. The two infants may not have survived. William Hayes Spencer may have grown to maturity, but I don’t think he remained in the Jasper County area. And true to Elizabeth’s nature, she did not remain Elizabeth Ady very long.

According to the 1850 Census for Brandon Tp, Rensselaer Co., New York, William Beman was the son of Martin Beman (b. 1810, Vermont) and his wife Laura (b. 1813, Vermont). William appears on that census at age 20, and he is listed as a laborer. He also has a 16 year-old sister named Laura. Both William and his sister were born in New York [41].

By 1860, William resided in Wisconsin, where he appears on the 1860 Census for Farmington, Jefferson County, Wisconsin with a 22 year-old-wife named Mary. William is described as a railroad laborer. A Conner family resides with them, whose head, Migane Conner, also works for the railroad[42].

The Bemans next appear on the 1870 census for Washington, Daviess Co., Indiana, where William appears as a “roade master.” (He worked for the railroad.) His wife Mary, is still listed with him. William and Mary Beman do not have any children[43].

Finally, William Beman and his wife Mary appear on the 1880 Census for Boonville, Cooper Co., Missouri, where William is listed as a railroad track repairer[44]. Mary must have died by 1885, and William moved over to Jasper County, where he settled in Carl Junction, a town that is west of Carthage. And that’s where he met Elizabeth Foster Jones Spencer Ady.

By 1885, Elizabeth must have taken stock of herself once again. Many of the people she admired were now gone. Jesse James was killed in 1882. The Youngers were in prison. Frank James was “retired.” Her old childhood acquaintance, Belle Shirley (Belle Starr) had made quite a name for herself. In August 1874, her husband Jim Reed had been killed in a gunfight. Belle then took on a series of lovers beginning with Blue Duck and then marrying Sam Starr. By 1882, Belle Starr was celebrated as Queen of the Bandits by the popular press. She was caught trying to steal a neighbor’s horse. Judge Isaac Parker (the hanging judge) sentenced her to two consecutive six month terms in prison and her husband to one year in prison. After their release, the Starrs returned to Younger’s Bend in Arkansas, where they continued their rustling and bootlegging activities. [Sam Starr was eventually killed in a gunfight in 1886.] Belle then married Jim July–a marriage full of discord. She would eventually be killed when an unknown assailant shot her off her horse on February 3, 1889. Belle Starr died at the age of 41.][45]. I remember reading that after her death, her daughter Pearl had her buried with all her gold inside her coffin. Grave robbers knew that story, broke into the coffin and stole all the gold! (Doubt Belle would have had use for it by then!)

After establishing herself in Carthage, Elizabeth was probably seeking less excitement and more stability. At the same time, she didn’t want to marry another farmer. She liked city life and had no desire to move back to the country. Her children were growing up and more than anything else, she did not want to live alone. And that’s when she met William Beman.

Apparently, he was exactly the man she was seeking. He had the same gift of gab that attracted her originally to Andrew J. Ady and no ambitions for farming whatsoever-or so she thought! William had lived many places and experienced many things, and his stories could entertain her for hours. They were married August 11, 1886 in Carthage, Jasper Co., Missouri[46]. The 1900 Census finds them in Twin Grove, Jasper Co., Missouri, where William is listed as a farmer! The census record indicates that he was born in August 1829 in New York and that Elizabeth was born in November 1840 in Tennessee[47].

Elizabeth’s 16-year-old-grandson, Earl Jones, (who was born September 1883 in Missouri) was living with them in 1900. His parents were Thomas A. and Nancy Jones (Elizabeth’s oldest son). Thomas and Nancy were married May 7, 1881, although he seems to have had two marriages. His second wife was Mary Sabrit Thornhill. Thomas died in Carthage, Missouri October 12, 1942[48].

Concerning the rest of Elizabeth’s children:

Hettie D. Jones, (b. 1864) who appears on the 1880 Census in the Elizabeth Ady household. No further information. She may have died by 1900.

William H. Jones (age 33) and his wife Albirdia (age 30) appear on the 1900 Census, Twin Grove Tp., (Carl Junction), Jasper Co., Missouri with their children: Glen R. Jones (age 10) and Neal Jones (age 1)[49]. Some family records on state that William had two marriages and that his first wife’s name was Amy. However, William and Alberta were married November 6, 1889 in Jasper County[50]. William H. and Alberta appear on the 1920 Census for Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri with their children: Neal C. Jones (Age 20) and Walter L. Jones (age 12)[51]. William H. Jones died in Jasper Co., Missouri in 1939[52].

John C. Jones (age 48) appears on the 1920 Census for Pineville, McDonald Co., Missouri with his wife Hattie (age 46) and their children: Ray Jones (age 24); William Jones (age 22); Charles Jones (age 19); Louis Jones (age 18); Grace Jones (age 15); Harold Jones (age 9)[53]. John Charles Jones died June 27, 1924 in Pineville, McDonald Co., Missouri[54].

Earl E. Jones, (b. 1875) who appears on the 1880 Census in the Elizabeth Ady household. No further information. He may have died young.

I believe William Beman died shortly after the 1900 Census since I could find nothing further about him.

Apparently the Bemans returned to Daviess Co., Indiana shortly after the 1900 census was taken. William had lived there previously. The July 3, 1902 issue of the Carthage Press notes the following: Fidelity–Elizabeth, wife of William Spencer, formerly of this place, but now of Indiana, died Sunday, June 22[55].

Thus ends the odyssey of Elizabeth Foster Jones Spencer Ady Beman. But the question still remains: Who killed John Bass Jones?

The whole grand jury investigation against the Jasper County men the Spring of 1880 was prompted by political motives on the part of certain individuals who wanted to take control of City Hall and eliminate potential challenges. The grand jury investigation occurred in April 1880. Elizabeth Ady significantly altered her testimony from that originally given at the coroner’s inquest shortly after the death of John Bass Jones. In 1867, she told the coroner’s jury and everyone else who would listen to her that she didn’t recognize any of the men who came to the door. They were all strangers and none of them wore masks. At the grand jury investigation in April 1880, however, she named names-although she didn’t name William Spencer–and she also threw in the information about living on Red Hot Street in Galena, Kansas.

I seriously doubt that she lived there at all. Galena didn’t become a boom town until 1877, and Red Hot Street was notorious. In describing the conflict between Galena and its rival Empire City, the Genuine Kansas website notes:

“The war between the towns became so bad that the main connecting link between the two cities became known as “Red Hot Street,” when feuding became so intense that doctors and undertakers began working nights and sleeping during the days. This feud, coupled with the countless miners, transients, and outlaws hiding within its midst provided a hotbed for violence.

In this section of the town were innumerable saloons and gambling halls that catered to murderers, outlaws, and gamblers. During this time, many hardworking miners were lured inside to lose their hard earned gold at the gaming tables and other questionable pastimes. Some were never seen again”[56].

Elizabeth tossed in her reference to “Red Hot Street” during her 1880 testimony as a taunt-and probably as a way of embarrassing and/or mortifying William Spencer! I am certain she found enough excitement in southeast Kansas to fill her day without visiting Red Hot Street!

The killing of John Bass Jones is a matter of speculation since identities of the perpetrators were never discovered. Bass was a Confederate sympathizer, who spent a considerable amount of time in Arkansas. He lived in Saline County with his wife (Note: they had just married prior to his death), and he spent time in Benton County with relatives and friends. Apparently, his visits to Jasper County were sporadic and caused concern that he planned to locate there permanently. Bass may have been aware of their concern, which would have led him to the statement described in the following segment of the testimony:

My name is D. S. Moss. I live on Jones Creek, seven miles southeast of Carthage; lived there since 1866. In 1867 Wm. Hood lived about two miles south of Mr. J. D. Jones, and one quarter of a mile from me, and Wm. Boss lived about three miles from me, and David Collins lived five and a half or six miles and James Greer about five miles, a little east of south. They all lived up Jones Creek from where I lived. Knew Wm. Spencer; he lived about one mile north and east of where I lived. I have seen John Bass Jones when he was a boy; saw him in 1867–in March 1867. John Bass and James Henry Jones stopped at my home; I did not see John Bass again till the morning of the 17th of April, 1867; he was laying in the road; he had been shot. Think there was eleven holes in his body. Think the shot in the head and the one in the heart would have produced death. Knew Boss; saw him first in 1866. Defendants all identified. Have known Wm. Spencer from my boyhood. I heard Wm. Boss say that John Bass Jones had made some remarkable threats against us blank Republicans that lived on Jones Creek; that he, Boss, had played off on Jones as a Democrat, and Jones had told him that he would go down to Arkansas and get a company of bushwhackers, and clean out all union men on Jones Creek. About the week after this conversation–Boss belonged to a society we had down there for mutual protection against thieves–we had a meeting, and Boss was there. I was chairman, and Boss said something about Jones. I don’t know who was vice president. ??? to Boss we were not attending to ??? Joneses then. Mr. Smith and Mr. Samuels made use of some abrupt language, and I got up and left[57].

The whole incident appears to have started with a rumor. John Bass Jones may or may not have actually made that statement, or he may have made a statement that was perceived by others as an actual threat. Someone took his threat seriously and hired a group of killers to kill him. No one recognized any of the men in the original coroner’s inquest of 1867. They were strangers from outside the community. They may have even been hired by someone from inside or outside the community who was either worried about John Bass Jones’ permanent residence in Jasper County or who was hoping to cause trouble in Jasper County.

Perhaps at some future date a deathbed confession will emerge from some dusty trunk that will solve the mystery.



[1] Jarrett B. Foster Overview, Cunningham/Webster Family Tree, Available at

[2] 1850 Census, Jackson Tp., District 41, Jasper Co., Missouri-Jarrett B. Foster. Available at

[3] 1850 Census, District 41, Jasper Co., Missouri-John Shirley. Available at

[4] John Shirley Overview-The Walters Family Tree. Available online at

[5] Belle Starr-The Bandit Queen. From the American Legends Website. Old West Legends. Available online at

[6] 1860 Census Records, Jasper Co., Missouri: Jarrett B. Foster [Jackson Tp., District 41]-John Shirley [Marion Tp.]. Available at

[7] Foster Marriage Records for 1860, Jasper Co., Missouri. Available online at

[8] List of Original Members and Builders of the Freedom Baptist Church, Entrance of the Moss Springs Cemetery, Moss Springs Cemetery Association, Jasper Co., Missouri

[9] 1850 Census, District 41, Jasper Co., Missouri, John D. Jones. Available at

[10] 1860 Census, District 41, Jasper Co., Missouri, John D. Jones. Available at

[11] “Battle of Carthage-Confederate Victory”-Awesome Stories: Story Place on the Web. Available online at—confederate-victory

[12] CWSAC Battle Summaries Website, The American Battlefield Protection Program, Heritage Preservation Services, Available online at

[13] “The Battle of Pea Ridge”-Available at the Wikipedia website:

[14] U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. The Official Land Records Site. John Shirley and Harry W. Younger Land Patent (1850). Available online at

[15] Belle Starr-The Bandit Queen. From the American Legends Website. Old West Legends. Available online at

[16] Newton Jasper Spence Family Records. Mora Spence. Ca. 1995.

[17] 1865 Tax List, Marmaton, Bourbon Co., Kansas, Jarrett B. Foster. Available at

[18] 1870 Census for Westralia, Montgomery Co., Kansas, G. Foster. Available at

[19] 1875 tax record for Cherokee Tp., Montgomery Co., Kansas. Jarrett B. Foster. Available at

[20] “Wedding in the Woods”–Belle Starr Wedding Photo. Posted on Pinterest by Beverly Bauser, Found on

[21] Belle Starr-The Bandit Queen. From the American Legends Website. Old West Legends. Available online at

[22] 1850 Census for Geneva, Jennings, Indiana, Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[23] 1865 Tax List, Clarke Tp., in District 2, Indiana, Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[24] 1875 Tax List, Wild Cat Tp., Howard Co., Kansas, Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[25] 1875 Tax List, Wild Cat Tp., Howard Co., Kansas, Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[26] 1885 Tax List, Boulder Co., Colorado. Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[27] 1895 Tax List for Richland Tp., Gray Co., Kansas, Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[28] 1900 Census for Hess Tp., Gray Co., Kansas, Andrew J. Ady. Available at

[29] 1920 Census, Whatcom Co., Washington, Amelia Ady. Available at

[30] Milly Catherine Spence Jones Overview, Forehand-Winslow Family Tree. Available at

[31] Milly Catherine Spence Jones Overview, Henninger Family Tree. Available at

[32] William Spencer Overview, Riddle Family Tree. Available at

[33] William Spencer Overview, Riddle Family Tree. Available at

[34] 1850 Census for Sarcoxie, Jasper Co., Missouri, William Spencer. Available at

[35] 1880 Census, Union Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri, William Spencer. Available at

[36] 1865 Census for Mound City, Linn Co., Kansas, William Spencer. Available at

[37] 1880 Tax Records, Coffeyville, Montgomery Co., Kansas: Francis Marion Foster. Available at

[38] 1880 Census for Union Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri, William Spencer. Available at Ancestry .com:

[39] 1880 Census for Union Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri, William Spencer. Available at

[40] 1880 Census for Carthage, Jasper Co., Missouri, Elizabeth Ady. Available at

[41] 1850 Census for Brandon Tp, Rensselaer Co., New York, William Beman. Available at

[42] 1860 Census for Farmington, Jefferson County, Wisconsin, William Beman. Available at

[43] 1870 Census, Washington, Daviess Co., Indiana, William Beman. Available at

[44] 1880 Census, Boonville, Cooper Co., Missouri, William Beman. Available at

[45] Belle Starr-The Bandit Queen. From the American Legends Website. Old West Legends. Available online at

[46] William Beman Marriage Record; Jasper County Marriage Records; August 11, 1886

[47] 1900 Census, Twin Grove Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri; William Beman; Available at;

[48] Thomas A. Jones Family Tree; Ancestry World Tree; Available at;

[49] 1900 Census, Twin Grove Tp. (Carl Junction), Jasper Co., Missouri. William H. Jones. Available at

[50] William H. Jones Marriage Record; Jasper County Marriage Records; November 6, 1889 [51] 1920 Census, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri, William H. Jones. Available at

[51] William H. Jones Family Tree; Ancestry World Tree; Available at;

[52] 1920 Census, Pineville, McDonald Co., Missouri, John C. Jones. Available at

[53] John Charles Jones Family Tree; Ancestry World Tree; Available at

[54] Death Notice about Elizabeth Ady Spencer (Wife of William Spencer), Carthage Press, Carthage, Missouri. July 3, 1902

[55] Genuine Kansas: Galena; Available online at

[57] “The So-Called Murder Case” from The Carthage Banner, August 1, 1880. Microfilm. Jasper County Public Library




Who Killed John Bass Jones– Part 1



John Bass Jones (1838-1867). Grave at Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper County, Missouri

John Bass Jones (1838-1867). Grave at Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper County, Missouri



Jasper Co., Missouri was the scene of turmoil before, during, and after the Civil War. After Order No. 11 was issued, southern-sympathizing families were forced out of the State. As a result, many families fled Missouri to resettle in the South. Grayson Co., Texas was a popular area for resettlement. Some families remained in Texas and did not explore other locations. Some stayed there briefly, only to relocate to states such as Arkansas. Those who settled in Arkansas either remained there for the rest of their lives, or they relocated to southern counties in Missouri in the late 1880s or 1890s. Since Jasper Co., Missouri was a center of Union activity and sentiment, few southern supporters returned there. If they did, they risked their lives. Such was the case of John Bass Jones, who was shot and killed in the early morning hours of April 17, 1867 by unknown assailants in Jasper County.

Bass (as he was called) left Missouri with members of the Jones and Hood families and appears to have settled at Sulphur Springs, Benton Co., Arkansas. As reported in an earlier article written on him, he also settled in  Saline County, Arkansas, where he met and married his future wife. (Click HERE for the earlier story written about John Bass Jones, his family and his wife.)  He returned to Jasper County in 1867, apparently planning to stay there. Instead, his bullet-riddled body was found on the road. Unknown assailants took him from the house where he was staying and fired 11 bullets into him.

A coroner’s inquest was held immediately after the killing, but no one was charged. Then the whole case suddenly came to life again in 1880. A number of prominent men were charged with the murder, and prosecution of the murder case was detailed in the Carthage Banner. I have incorporated the newspaper account below.


The So-Called Murder Case

From “The Carthage Banner, August 1, 1880

The Democratic Prosecution of Innocent Men for Murder

The Evidence In Full as Taken By a Banner Reporter

Prosecution of this case was conducted by prosecuting attorney McIntyre, assisted by W. C. Robinson and A. L. Thomas. Defense of the case was in the hands of L. H. Waters. U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, and T. B. Hanghawout and W. H. Phillips.

“The well known ability of the counsel for the defense guarantees that the true animus of the prosecution will be thoroughly shown up, and the rights of the defendants maintained and protected. Of the twenty-four men sworn this morning, fifteen were accepted and the sheriff was ordered to get twenty-five more jurors. It will perhaps require today and tomorrow to fill the panel, as the case has been much talked of and has excited a great deal of just indignation in the breasts of good citizens all over the county. The readers of the BANNER shall be kept fully posted in every detail of the trial which will be come one of the most celebrated that ever occurred in the county” (The Carthage Banner, Thursday, March 25, 1880)




The state after the forty men were qualified, called Geo. Miller, and asked him whether he had said anything about the case after he was qualified. He said that Wm. Motherspaw said to him, that the case would be short, as one of the witnesses had a bad character; also, that he had no prejudice or bias for or against the defendants.

Jasper said that he talked with him and said he did not like to be kept away from home, that the case would not amount to anything, as one of the witnesses has a very bad character; that is all he said about the case. The court then excluded Miller and fined him ten dollars [for comments made] as to Smith and Flemming.

State of Missouri vs. D. S. Collins, et al. Witnesses for State:


I was at John D. Jones’, seven miles south of Carthage, in April, 1867. J. D. and his wife, James Jones was there on the night of April 16th. Knew John Bass Jones in his life time. He had been in the county but a short time prior to that time. He left this county in 1866 and came back in 1867; he remained a week and went to Arkansas, remained about a week and came back on the night he was killed, came to John D. Jones, a fact; came from the direction of Wm. Hood’s. I was awoke by some one calling out. J. D. Jones called out that John Bass was in the house. They said, tell him to get up  and come to the door. John Bass got up and asked them what they wanted. They said they wanted him to go to town; he said he had no horse; they said they would furnish him a horse. He then came back and dressed, went out, and the last I heard him say was, even if I had done anything to die for, I would not care. Did not know any of the parties. He went out the west door; about five minutes after he was taken out I heard shots; seemed to be two volleys; saw the body next morning. The body was lying on its back, was eleven bullet holes in it. The house is on the west side of the creek. We were all sleeping in the same room, about twenty feet square; it was a light night; I saw some parties pass the window on the east side of the house. Wm. Boss lived on the widow Jones’ [Note: Milly Catherine Spence Jones, wife of Lewis Jones] farm in Newton county. John Bass claimed one-fifth interest in the farm at that time. I stayed in bed all the time until I heard the guns fired; then I got up and left.


The doors were in the center of the house, on the east and west side. John Bass and myself slept in the south east corner. John David Jones was the man that said we were in the house; don’t know whether John David Jones got up or not; can’t tell whether Mrs. Ady was up when the men were there or not; think she was after the men had started from the door. This was about twelve miles from Granby; the road where the body was found is the road to Granby. We had a stable. John Bass did not bring his horse; did not recognize any of the men that passed by window; don’t know how many men were there were.


I am twenty eight years old in August; live in Jasper County; lived at John D. Jones’ April 1867. Saw John Bass Jones there in April of that year. John Bass came there the night he was killed. Went to bed early. I slept upstairs. Did not wake during the night; got up in the morning, before day; saw Jones dead in the road, about two hundred yards from the house in the road. There was eleven bullet holes in the body: two in the body, one in his ear, one in his chin, and several in his leg. Defendant Greer lived about four miles southeast of Jones’ at that time. Boss lived about three miles. I saw Mr. Boss pass by our house the next morning; he stopped a moment and then rode off. This happened in Jasper County.


I was not awake that night; they called me the next morning. There was no one to bed when I went to bed. John Bass came there about a week before this, on a black horse, he went to Arkansas on said horse. He came there before  breakfast. Don’t know whether he had had his breakfast or not.


Live six miles south. I lived there in 1867; was acquainted with John Bass Jones in 1867. The last time I ever saw him alive was in April, 1866. I saw his body afterwards in 1867, at the house of John Davy Jones; died in 1867, April 17th. On the night of the 16th I was on the bottom of the forks of Jones and Center Creek, hunting turkeys. When I started down it was clear; when I went home, it was twelve or one o’clock and clear. I lived about two miles from the bottom; as I went home I heard shooting, toward Dr. Moss’s. I was then about two miles and a half from John D. Jones when I heard the shots. Saw only two shots; one went in the right ear and came out at his chin; the other in his wrist. John D Jones lived about three and a half miles southeast of me. Wm. Hood lived about one-half miles from Jones, south. There was a right smart yard around J. D. Jones at that time. On the west side of the house there was a locust tree. John Bass Jones was about twenty-eight years old.


I was friendly with the Joneses. I have lived at where I now live since the war, except two years.

[Still for the Prosecution]


Reside in Newton county; have lived there since August, 1866, about three miles from Wm. Boss; two miles east and one south. I was introduced to John Bass Jones by Mr. Boss, in March, 1867, I think. I recollect he was killed in the spring of the year, the same spring I was introduced to him. Mr. Boss said he was interested in the place he, Boss, lived on. The day before Jones was killed I was in the timber, north of Mr. Boss’ home, sawing timber. On my way home, I passed along the north end of Mr. Boss’ home. Boss was close to the barn, leading a horse. We saw Mr. Boss and we went to the timber and  Boss said it was all right to cut the timber. Mr. Jones said it was all right. Mr. Jones asked Boss if Jones had left us a French Furlough. Boss said he had heard so. When we saw it was at the house as we went home, Haines said, Boss, I thought Jones had left the country. Boss said yes. Haines said, I saw him but a short time before going up to Hood’s to stay all night. I said Jones said he was moving to Carthage. Boss said he must be seen to. I think that was all that was said. After we got across the creek I saw someone ride up the creek south; think it was Boss. He was riding toward where Greer was living. I told Boss that Jones told me that he had the power of attorney to bring suit to set aside deeds where property had been sold on bogus attachments, where parties were out of the country. The amount he had to settle was about forty or fifty thousand dollars.


I went over to Boss’s to buy corn when I was introduced to Jones. I next saw Bass when I went over after ??? took out tools. We stopped at Boss’s to get permission to cut a couple of trees. Boss said it was all right, that Jones had no objection. We saw Jones in the evening. Jones asked us if we knew whose timber we were cutting. I told him we had bought the timber of Boss. Jones said it was all right. I did not know it was John Bass Jones until two days after. Jones was riding a horse. He went north when he left. The horse was a bay or sorrel. When I went to Boss’ house in the evening, Boss  was just leading a horse in the barn yard. I told Boss that Jones said he had the power to attorney to bring a number of suits for land in Jasper county that had been sold out on bogus attachment suits for damages against parties who had left the county.

JAMES H. JONES was by the court recalled for the purpose of permitting a juror to ask him a question. H. C. Warner, juror, asked him: What relation was John Bass Jones to you? My uncle. I went to Buckingham’s that night, and told them what I thought had occurred. State asked him what trees were on the west side of the house? Two–one locust tree and apple tree.


My name is Elizabeth Ady. Live in Carthage. Lived on Jones Creek in 1867. My name was Jones.


My name is D. S. Moss. I live on Jones Creek, seven miles southeast of Carthage; lived there since 1866. In 1867 Wm. Hood lived about two miles south of Mr. J. D. Jones, and one quarter of a mile from me, and Wm. Boss lived about three miles from me, and David Collins lived five and a half or six miles and James Greer about five miles, a little east of south. They all  lived up Jones Creek from where I lived. Knew Wm. Spencer; he lived about one mile north and east of where I lived. I have seen John Bass Jones when he was a boy; saw him in 1867–in March 1867. John Bass and James Henry Jones stopped at my home; I did not see John Bass again till the morning of the 17th of April, 1867; he was laying in the road; he had been shot. Think there was eleven holes in his body. Think the shot in the head and the one in the heart would have produced death. Knew Boss; saw him first in 1866. Defendants all identified. Have known Wm. Spencer from my boyhood. I heard  Wm. Boss say that John Bass Jones had made some remarkable threats against us blank Republicans that lived on Jones Creek; that he, Boss, had played off on Jones as a Democrat, and Jones had told him that he would go down to Arkansas and get a company of bushwhackers, and clean out all union men on Jones Creek. About the week after this conversation–Boss belonged to a society we had down there for mutual protection against thieves–we had a meeting, and Boss was there. I was chairman, and Boss said something about Jones. I don’t know who was vice president. ??? to Boss we were not attending to ??? Joneses then. Mr. Smith and Mr. Samuels made use of some abrupt language, and I got up and left.

Question: Did not Wm. Boss make a motion while you was setting–make a motion at that meeting–some time in March or April that John Bass Jones should be killed. Excluded.

Don’t know whether Boss said anything more. Samuels and Smith said something about running Jones out of county and killing him, etc.

There seemed to be considerable animosity against someone; don’t know who it was against. I told Boss that I would see Jones about it and he said nothing. Don’t know who took the chair when I left. Don’t think there was any motion or proposition to kill Jones that night. All that I know about it, I have stated. There was considerable excitement. I don’t know whether Collins or Greer was there or not. Don’t think there was a motion or even a proposition for a motion to run John Bass Jones out of the county, or to kill him. We had another meeting about two weeks after that. We organized in April, 1866. We had a meeting on the night of the 16th of April, 1867; lasted until after 9 o’clock; it was at the school house about one-half mile from my house. Wm. Spencer was there; don’t think David Collins was there, or James Greer; heard someone speak; thought it was Boss; it was at the door; I was in the back of the house; don’t know whether it was Boss’ voice or not; after the conversation had passed, heard a horse going up the hill.


Our society was called the Union League; about one hundred members. We let everybody in who wanted to join. The organization was not to do anybody any harm, but to protect our property. Boss asked me whether John Bass Jones had not better be arrested. The business we wanted attended to was to petition the Legislature to remit interest on some older debts for which I was security. Think this is why I left the chair. I know Nathan Smith and Lee Burlingame.

Did you not say in presence of Mr. Burlingame and Smith that you heard Jones’ name mentioned in the Union League?


Did you not state in presence of Thos. Wakefield yesterday that Bass was not at the meeting and that he did not ride up to the door?

I held the inquest over the body of Jones. I was J. P. at the time.

Boss’ wife was sick at that time; he came after medicine on the 16th of April, 1867. William Spencer’s wife was sick also.

Mrs. Ady and Mrs. William Hood were witnesses at the inquest. I knew all about this matter then that I know now. Mrs. Hood was a sister of John Bass Jones; Amos Buchannan’s wife and John Bass Jones’ wife were brother and sister; also Mrs. Hood and John Bass Jones.

(still for the prosecution)


I reside in Cherokee county, Kansas since 1874. Know Dr. Moss, know Wm. Spencer, knew them first in the summer of 1867. I joined the organization in 1867 after the killing. Know Wm. Boss and David Collins. I attended two meetings in July or August, 1866; we took an oath that did not amount to much; we signed a constitution for mutual protection.

Spencer told me during august, 1879, on Dave Spence’s [Note: William David Spence–my second great-grandfather]] fence. I was talking about the killing of this man. He said, “Are you a member. I can tell you.” He said, “We had a meeting. Dr. Moss was president, and would not put the motion to kill Jones; and after the crowd had gone out of doors, some one came up, and he, Spencer, said as Moss would not give the order to kill Jones, that he, Spencer, would have your men ready; I say as vice-president, to go on and do it. I don’t know who it was that Spencer said asked for the order.


I first came to the country in June, 1867. Soon after joining the league; I was a Democrat at that time, but they did not know it. I recollect of seeing Smith, Gibbens and Dr. Moss at the meetings. I told the conversation I had with Spencer; to Laz Spence and Dave Spence and all over the country. They met at Moss’ spring; when I met with them. I wrote the conversation down a few days after. Bro. Boss, Mr. Buchanan, Nathan Smith, and Mr. Boss asked me who had told me, I said I would not tell. I did not deny knowing anything about it when they came to see me.


Some of the men came armed; some one says Boss was the spokesman, and wanted my authority, but I told them I would permit my right arm to be cut off  first.


I was living on Jones’ Creek in 1867, about one mile from Wm. Hood’s; knew James Greer, David Collins and Wm. Boss; had known them but a short time. Knew John Bass Jones; saw him last on the 16th day of April, 1867; come a foot from the direction of Wm. Hood’s. Think Dan Jones went to bed first; can’t say what time the men-folks retired that night. The beds were in the south end of the house–one in the west and the other in the east corner. The first thing I heard was a rapping on the house. I spoke to my husband, who spoke, and asked what they wanted; they said we want you to come out. I did not want him to go out. They said if you come out and act like a man you shall not be hurt. He opened the door; they asked who was there, and he said John Bass and J. H. Jones. John Bass went to the door. They said we want  you to go to town; he said he had no horse; they said we will furnish you one. He put his clothes on and went out and they surrounded him. I heard him say that if he had ever done anything to be killed for he would not care. They started off with him and I soon heard what I supposed to be fifteen or twenty shots; afterwards I thought I heard horses going east and south. Wm. Buchannan was standing at the door. I recognized Nathan Boss, Wm. Boss, James Greer and David Collins; David Collins at that time wore his mustache blacked. They had small arms in their hands.


Hood’s wife was a cousin to John Bass Jones. I married Davy Jones in 1860; it was about two weeks after John Bass Jones came back before he was killed. He went to Arkansas. John Bass Jones did not make his home anywhere after he came back. I had got asleep before I was aroused by the men. John B. Jones had a great many relatives in the neighborhood. He went out the west door. I was getting out the side of the bed; and saw Wm Buchannan through the window; I had my dress on when I went to the door; I saw seven men in all; don’t know who the others were; can’t give any description of them; can’t tell how the men were dressed. I was present at the inquest next day, and swore that I did not know any of the men.

Question: Did you not tell Mrs. Furggason that you did not know any of the men that killed Jones?

Answer: No.

Ques. Did you not tell Ruban Dall the same thing?

Ans. No.

Ques. Did you not tell Mrs. Southerland the same thing?

Ans. No.

The first time I told any body who the men were was last fall; I told Pike, who was at that time detective and deputy sheriff. After Jones was killed my husband died, I married Spencer; after I parted with Spencer I went to Galena in 1877, and went by the name of Jones, though my name was Spencer. I lived on Red Hot Street, Galena. When I lived in Galena I married A. J. Ady; I went to Elk county, Kansas, from Galena. I saw David Collins at our house; he was with his brother who was hung near Lamar. Pike was at my house when I first told him this. He spoke to me several times about making the affidavit.

Did you not refuse to sign the affidavit against these men when you went to Squire Brown’s office, and did not Pike take you in a private room and talk with you before you would sign it.

Objected to and objection sustained.

I said I was afraid to tell, but no one threatened me. I don’t know why I was not afraid to tell Pike.


Know defendants; live eight miles southeast of here, two and one-half miles from Jones Creek; came there in April, 1866; Greer and Collins pointed out to me day before yesterday; never saw Greer before; saw Collins once before; didn’t know Jones; two days after killing heard of it in town. I was not acquainted with any of the defendants but Spencer; did not get acquainted with Boss till 1870. I met Spencer some time in 1867 or 1868 on the prairie, and we had a conversation in relation to my membership in a certain organization. He wanted to know whether I was loyal. I told him I was loyal  to the United States, but not to the organization. All the conversation was about my allegiance to the organization. It was called the Advanced Guards of America, and held their meetings at the Moss School House. Don’t know whether Spencer was a member or not.


I belonged to that organization. I did not know any member in the order.


Mr. Spencer said Jones was killed because he was kicking about the cutting of  timber on his land; that he did not allow rebs to come back and make threats.


I resided on Jones’ Creek in April 1867; lived there until the 16th of April; knew John Bass Jones; he left that county in April, 1866; the next I saw him was March, 1867; stayed a week and went to Arkansas to see his brothers, and come back April 16th, 1867, about three o’clock that day was on horse back; stayed till dark; left his horse and went I don’t know where. His horse was in my lot; know Boss, Collins and Greer; saw Collins and Greer pass my house that evening; they passed close to where the horse was; Jones had left before they came back. I saw two persons going toward J. D. Jones’; after that I heard the dogs bark and got up and went to the door; some one knocked at the door. I opened the door; saw pistols cocked. They said “Come out.” I did; three men went in and one guarded me; the men that asked me to come out and turned and asked me who was in the house. They went in, searched the house, came out and went away. They then came back and asked me where John Bass Jones was. My wife said they had gone down to John Davy Jones’s. They turned and walked off; I went back in; they came back again, called me out and asked me to come round the house; saw four men; was getting over the fence, and Collins came up to me and asked me whether I had ever ordered any Union men out of this county or took Union men’s property. I said no. He then said he did not want me to run around any more; that is, unnecessary running around. My wife came to the door, and he then told me not to leave the house until daylight. I only recognized Greer, Collins and Buchannan.

They had been gone about one-half hour. I heard pistols a little while after I heard horses’ feet on the road going south; thought the pistol shots were down the creek. the men were not disguised; they had pistols; did not see Collins have any pistols. I saw seven men in all; only recognized three. The two men that were with Collins when he talked to me I did not know. The moon was a little west that night.

Cross Examined;

Live in Texas; northwest Texas; I left Texas last Monday week to come here; was here last court; stayed at Pike’s house and McBride’s house–went out some and mostly after night. Mr. McAntyre sent me money to come here–was in Weatherford, Texas, when I got the money. John B. Jones was riding on a black or brown horse when he came to my house. Got to my house on the 16th, about three o’clock. The men came to my house at about 12 o’clock or after, at night. I went to Jones’ next morning and stayed until night. It is one mile from my house to Boss’. I did not go to Boss’ next morning and tell them that Jones was dead. I did not tell Boss ??? that I did not know the men  that were there that night.

Witnesses for Defense


Lived on Jones Creek on Laz Spence’s place in 1867; was one of the jurors before the inquest. Wm. Hood was sworn as a witness.

Question: Did not Mr. Hood swear before the Coroner’s jury that he did not know who the men were that was at his house?

Answer: Yes

Ques: Did not Hood swear before said jury that the men were all strangers to him?

Ans: yes.


I was one of the Coroner’s jury that held the inquest over the body of John Bass Jones. Wm. Hood was sworn as a witness, and testified that the men who were at his house that night were all strangers to him.

Have known William Spencer since 1841; Mr. Spencer always had a good reputation; also Boss and Greer.

Cross Examined: There was a large crowd at the inquest.

I was at the meeting of the League the night Jones was killed. Collins or Greer was there.

The League lasted till two minutes after nine o’clock; after the meeting was over, myself, Dr. Moss and William Spencer went home together as far as Moss’, then I went a short distance from Moss’ and Spencer went on home.


I lived in 1866 at my father’s on Jones Creek; I remember of the killing of J. B. Jones. I was north of Hood’s or John D. Jones that night. I was at my uncle’s that night shelling corn. I was a member of the League. I understood it to be a general organization gotten up by members of the local area to protect property and enforce the law. I was at the meeting of the League at Moss Spring, when Major Baney was an applicant and he was rejected. He never was a member of that order.

Cross Examined: My uncle lived about two and a half miles from where John B. Jones was killed. I never heard the name of Jones mentioned in the League and I know it was not the murder of Jones that caused the League to disband. I never was at Major Baney’s for the purpose of driving him out of the county.

Re-examined: I was at the foot of the stairs when Moss said he had never heard the name of Jones mentioned in the league and had never heard any motion or proposition in the League to kill Jones or run him out of the  country.


Testified as above


Yesterday and the day before, D. Moss told me he was not at the meeting of the League the night Jones was killed. Swears to the good character of all of the defendants. Baney never was a member of the League. His name was rejected at a meeting at Moss Spring, while I was a member.


My recollection is that I said I could not positively tell where I was the night Jones was killed, at the time I gave bail.


Know Mrs. Ady, her and her husband were at my house last harvest, and she, Mrs. Ady, told me she did not know who killed J. B. Jones; that she did not recognize any of them and that the killing of Jones was a mystery.

Cross-Examined: She said that three of the men came in the house and she did not recognize any of them; that they were strangers and not disguised.


I came to this county on the 1st of March, 1867; know Mrs. Ady. The morning of the 17th I went to Jones’ house and helped to carry the body in the home and Mrs. Ady told me she did not know any of the men that killed Jones.


Know Mrs. Ady; knew her in 1869, in the summer of 1869. Mrs. Ady said in my presence that she did not recognize any of the men who killed Bass Jones. She said the men were out in the yard southwest of the house under an apple  tree. Know where Boss lived in 1868; there was no lane on the northwest of Boss’ house at that time.


Came to this state in the fall of 1867; know where Boss live; am acquainted with the country. The lane Mitchell spoke of was built in the spring of 1869.


Am a sister of defendant Collins; know Mrs. Ady; she and her husband were at my house visiting, and Mrs. Ady said she did not know the men that killed Jones; that they were black and strangers; I was living at home, and my brother was at home the night Jones was killed; also James Greer was there, and my brother was sick. I know it was that night because my sister was confined. My brother and Greer slept upstairs; the stairs were in the room where we slept. My brother and Mr. Greer went to bed early, and did not come down during the night.

Cross Examined: I have been married seven years; think I was about sixteen or seventeen; think I was older at that time. James Greer stayed at our house lots of nights. The night Jones was killed I think they went to bed at the proper time. My brother and Mr. Greer went to bed first.


Am a sister of defendant Collins; lived in Newton County in 1867; I remember the night Jones was killed; my brother was at home that night; Greer was there; I slept in the room where the stairs went up and my brother and Greer went upstairs to bed that night. I went to my sister’s next day to see my sister, and Mrs. Ward told me Jones was killed. My sister had been confined.


Am one of the defendants; was at home the night John Bass Jones was killed; Greer slept with me. My sister told Greer that Jones was killed. I was not at J. D. Jones’ the night Jones was killed; was not at Hood’s that night. I  was at home, sick.


Am one of the defendants; am sixty-one; knew Jones. The night Jones was killed I went to Dr. Moss’ for medicine and went to the meeting, and went home about nine o’clock. I was a member of the Union League; had nothing to do with the killing of Jones; never gave orders to kill him and never heard his name mentioned in the League; never told Baney what he swore to.


Am one of the defendants; was not at Wm. Hood’s the night Jones was killed; did not go to John D. Jones’ the night he was killed; did not help kill him, and don’t know anything about it.


Am one of the defendants; knew John Jones; first found out he was killed on the morning of the 17th of April, 1867. Wm. Hood came to my house that morning and told me that Jones was killed. I was at home all night the night Jones was killed. I never suggested to the League to kill Jones, and never said anything about him. My wife was sick the night Jones was killed. John Bass Jones and I was always friendly; never saw him but twice in his life time, once when Buchanan introduced him to me, and once when he came to measure his mother’s corn.

Cross Examined: Never had any such conversation with Mitchell, as he has sworn to. I did not see Mitchell all the day before Jones was killed.


Am the wife of Wm. Boss. I recollect of the killing of John Bass Jones. My husband was at home that night. I recollect my husband was at home, because I was sick and he gave me medicine, and Wm. Hood came over next morning and told us Jones was killed.

Cross Examined: I had been sick for nearly one year.


Am a son of the defendant Boss. Am twenty-nine years old in August. I recollect of the time John Bass Jones was killed: The next morning after he was killed, Wm. Hood came to our house and told us Jones was killed. My father was at home all of the night Jones was killed. I know he was because my mother was sick, and father was up and down during the night to give her medicine, and Wm. Hood came over the next morning and told us of the killing of Jones.

Cross Examined: Hood told us that morning that he had no idea who killed Jones. My father asked him if he wanted anyone to go and help hunt the ones that killed John Bass Jones. Mrs. Allen was living in the room adjoining us, and Mrs. Seanures was living in the kitchen.


Am twenty four, February 26. Am a son of Wm. Boss. I recollect of hearing of the killing of John Bass Jones. Wm. Hood told us the next morning that John Bass Jones was killed; he also said that he did not know who killed him, and had no idea who killed him. I recollect my father was at home all the  night of the 16ths.



I live about six miles from Moss, and the same from W. Hood. In 1867 I lived on the head of Jenkins Creek about three miles from Wm. Hood.

Question: Was Major Baney a member of that order in 1867.

Objected to by the defendant. Over ruled.

Ans. I think he was

Cross-Examined. I think I have been to meetings when Baney was there, am not satisfied or positive; was not a member of the League at Moss Spring.


Quest: Was you agent for the farm Boss lived on in 1867?

Ans. I was.

Ques. Did you give Boss any authority to sell any timber?

Ans. I did not.

Objected to by the State. Overruled.


I was present at the coroner’s inquest; don’t recollect whether Wm. Hood testified or not at the inquest.


Live in Newton county; know Wm. Hood. I recollect the circumstances of Jones being killed. Hood left the day Jones was buried. I saw Hood start; the evening he left, he was at my house. I was present at the Coroner’s Inquest. Didn’t hear Wm. Hood testify; I think Mrs. Jones and husband were all that testified.

Cross-Examined; If Noah Moon testified, I did not know it.


I lived three-fourth miles west from where Jones was killed; was at the inquest. Hood left the day Jones was buried.

Cross-Examined: I think John D. Jones and wife and Wm. Hood and wife testified at the Coroner’s inquest.


Live in Joplin. Know W. S. Norton; he lives in Empire City, Kansas. He formerly lived in Joplin. Knew his general moral character. It was bad.


I was present at the Coroner’s inquest. Could not say whether Wm. Hood was sworn or not.



The newspaper account ends here. I did not find any additional articles about the murder trial. The case was referred to once again in the press when William Spencer died December 23, 1888, and his obituary mentioned that he had been one of the defendants in the case. As far as I know, the defendants were all acquitted by the jury and the case against the defendants was closed. The real killers of John Bass Jones were never found.

My interest in the case has not waned however. And recently, while going through the old newspaper account, I made an interesting discovery that has taken me in a new direction. I will cover that in Part Two.


“The So-Called Murder Case” from The Carthage Banner, August 1, 1880. Microfilm. Jasper County Public Library, Carthage, Missouri.




The Country of Six Bulls: Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence (1833-1931)–Part Two


Lazarus and Adeline Spence Grave, Moss Springs, Cemetery. Photo Taken May 2002

Lazarus and Adeline Spence Grave, Moss Springs, Cemetery, Jasper County, Missouri. Photo Taken May 2002

Cornelius O’Bryan (1696-1751), Augusta Co., Virginia

Daniel Bryant (1803-1858) and Lucy Key (1810-1903), the parents of Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence, were born in Franklin County, Virginia. Tracing Daniel Bryant’s family has been a challenge because of the constant change in the spelling of the name. I originally thought he was part of the large Huguenot family of Bryants from Buckingham and Cumberland Counties, Virginia, many of whom eventually settled in Kentucky. But the name was originally “O’Bryan”–later “Bryant”–and Daniel’s ancestors were Scotch-Irish, who intermarried with the O’Brians/O’Briants.

The O’Brian/O’Bryan surname was first found in County Clare, where Cornelius O’Bryan was born in before 1697. He relocated to Augusta County, Virginia, which is today Rockingham, where he died in 1751. A copy of his will follows:

Be it Remembered the thirtieth day of March in the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifty one I Cornelius O’Bryan of Augusta in the Colony of Virginia yeoman being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God therefore calling to mind the mortallity of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to dye do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament that is to say principally And first of all I give and recommend my soul into the Hands that gave it and for My body I recommend it to the Earth to be Buried in a Christain like and decent manner at the discretion of My Executors and as touching such worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form – Imprimis it is my will and I do Order that in the first place all my juste Debts and Funeral Charges be paid and satisfied – Item I give and bequeath unto Rebecca my Dearly beloved wife one hundred Acres of Land during her natural life or she Continues My widow but after her Death or Mariage the said one hundred acres of Land to go unto my Son John Bryen his heirs And assigns forever likewise the old white horse and brown horse and a roan cow and a brown cow of the heifer that come of her and six sheep her choice of the stock together with all my household good during her Natural life And if she marries or when dys to go unto my son John likewise, — Item I give and bequeath unto my son Cornelius O’Bryen a roan mare, — Item I give and bequeath unto my son Thomas’s Eldest son Benjamin a roan yearling colt which came of the mare that I gave unto Cornelius my son, — Item the Rest of my stock Excepting the swine to be Equally Divided amongst the Remainder of my Children These I give and bequeath unto my son John O’Bryan all the remainder of my Estate Both real and personal unto him his heirs And assigns forever, Item I do constitute and ordain my well beloved wife Rebecca and my son John O’Bryen my only and sole Executors of this My Last Will and Testament and I do hereby utterly disalow revoke and disannul all and every other former Testaments Wills Legacies and Executors by me in any ways before this time Named willed and bequeathed Ratifying and Confirming this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament In witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand and seal the day and year above written [1].

In his will, Cornelius identifies his wife as Rebecca, and his sons as John, Cornelius Jr., and Thomas. John, who must have been his eldest son, became the executor of his estate along with his mother. He mentions a grandson named Benjamin, who was the eldest son of Thomas. Cornelius signed his will March 30, 1751 and the will was recorded May 28, 1751, indicating that he had died during that period of time. John O’Briant posted his bond as executor November 26, 1751[2]. John Bryant’s name earlier appears on the Augusta County Records where he was appointed as appraiser in another estate on May 10,1749 [3].

Subsequently, the Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800 indicate a land transaction involving the O’Bryan sons:

Name: Cornelius O’Bryan  Date: 10 Jul 1762  Location: Augusta Co., VA  Property: 150 acres on Linvel’s Creek, beginning at kern of stones; cor. John O’Bryan; cor. Cornelius O’Bryan, on the side of the Bald Hill, Watering Spring Run  Remarks: Grantors are surviving joint tenants of Cornelius, John, and Cornelius O’Bryan, Jr. 20. Part of 500 acres conveyed by Hite & Co. to Cornelius, John and Cornelius, Jr., 24 Jun 1744. Delivered to Thomas O’Bryan, Jul 1766.  Description: Grantor  Book Date: 10-458 [4].

I believe that one of these sons-Cornelius, Jr., John, or Thomas-had a son named John Bryant who relocated to Pittsylvania County-today, Franklin Co., Virginia-where he married a daughter of Dennis O’Briant.


Dennis O’Briant (1725-aft 1793), John Bryant (ca. 1760-aft. 1812) and Daniel Prillaman (1758-1854)

Dennis O’Briant was an early settler on Nicholas Creek in Pittsylvania County, having arrived before 1767 and having acquired his property of 286 acres on July 14, 1769. (Note: In 1776, this land would be situated in Henry County and in 1786, the land would lie in Franklin County, owing to the creation of new counties during that period of time. His wife’s name is unknown. Two of Dennis O’Briant’s children have been identified: a daughter named Ann (1758-1850) who married Daniel Prillaman (1758-1854) and a son named Dennis O’Briant, Jr. (b. 1769; d. before 1802). There are additional O’Briant names in the area, but with no proven connection to Dennis, Sr.

The son of Jacob Prillaman (1721-1796) and Priscilla Walburga Helm (1723-1799) Daniel Prillaman married Ann O’Briant in 1777. The Prillamans had the following children:

Jacob Prillaman (1778-1858) Dennis Prillaman (1780-1840) John Prillaman (1782-1853) Elizabeth Prillaman (1788-1812) Judith Prillaman (b. 1790) Daniel Prillaman (1799-1844) Susan Prillaman (1794-1899) Ann Prillaman (1799-1892) Ruth Prillaman (1802-1896) [5].

The Prillamans named their children after relatives from both sides of the family. Jacob and Dennis were named for the grandfathers, and Dennis was named for his uncle as well. John was named for John Bryant, indicating that John was already living in the area and had already married an O’Briant. [John had acquired land adjoining Dennis O’Briant in Henry County on Nicholas Creek June 1, 1782, so he may have married Dennis’s daughter by then.] Daniel and Ann were named for the Prillamans. Ruth was named for Dennis O’Briant. Jr.’s wife-she would later become John Bryant’s second wife. (More on this later). Elizabeth was named for Daniel Prillaman’s sister. That leaves Judith and Susan, and they may have represented the grandmothers. Daniel Prillaman had three sisters named Elizabeth, Barbara and Anna.  [Note: I believe that John Bryant’s first wife’s name was Elizabeth, so Elizabeth Prillaman would have been named for Elizabeth O’Briant Bryant and for Elizabeth Prillaman, Daniel Prillaman’s sister.]

The following is a Public Member Story about Daniel Prillaman at

Daniel Prillaman came to Virginia with his father Jacob. On 19 Jan 1778 Daniel Prillaman, together with Dennis O’Briant & John Bryant, “refuseth to take & subscribe the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia” (Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, Vol. 9 pg 14). This refusal may have been because of his religious convictions, or because of a stronger allegiance to Germany & England. In the first list of tithes taken in Henry County in 1782, Daniel Prillaman’s name appears, with those of his father & two brothers, & he was listed as a resident of that county until 1786, when he & his family appear in Franklin County, which had been cut off from Henry the preceding year.

On 17 June 1783, Daniel had received a grant of 285 acres in Henry County, on Nicholas Creek adjoining Dennis O’Briant (Commonwealth Grants & Patents, Book H, pg 243). Nine years later, on 10 July 1792, he acquired the plantation of his father-in-law, Dennis O’Briant, by a deed of gift, consisting of 286 acres on Nicholas Creek, which was then in Franklin County (Franklin County Deeds, Book 2, pg 414). This land had been granted to Dennis O’Briant in 1769, & later became the property of Daniel’s son, David Prillaman.

Daniel Prillaman acquired other land in the Nicholas Creek section in 1802 & 1803. He bought from Robert Stockton, for $43, a tract of 33 acres on 10 Sept 1802, on Nicholas Creek. On 3 Dec 1803, he bought 33 acres from Spencer James & Nathaniel Dixon, which was also on Nicholas Creek.

The old home of Daniel Prillaman burned in 1911, at which time the family Bible was also destroyed; the house was rebuilt, using the original chimneys. The family cemetary where Daniel & Ann are buried is on the property. Daniel Prillaman lived in the Brown Hill section, while his brothers remained in Blackwater; possibly Daniel moved because of his marriage to Ann O’Briant, whose father was an early settler on Nicholas Creek. One family tradition relates that Daniel had a powder mill near the original family home, & that one day the mill blew up, & Daniel immediately removed to Brown Hill, leaving his brothers behind.

From 1799 on, Daniel Prillaman’s name appears in the Court Order Books of Franklin County. In 1799 he was appointed to supervise the surveys for roads, & was appointed an Overseer of the Poor, as his father had been. He served on juries & transferred lands through the court. At the time of his death in 1854, he was still living on Nicholas Creek. One descendant tells of a slave who was present at the estate sale in 1854, who remembers Daniel’s son Dennis repeating, “I’ll tell you one thing — I want Daddy’s buck (spotted) horse!”

Daniel’s will is dated 1845, probated 1854, & names his wife Ann & ten children [6].

The refusal of Dennis O’Briant, John Bryant, and Dennis Prillaman to take an oath of allegiance probably stemmed from their religious beliefs rather than any strong feeling of loyalty to England. The O’Briants, Bryants and Prillamans were staunch conservatives and were all members of the Baptist Church. The Baptist Church to which they belonged severed ties with the main Baptist Church in 1814 over the issue of the Foreign Mission Board. They became known as Primitive Baptists. [The Freedom Baptist Church at Moss Springs in Jasper Co., Missouri was a Primitive Baptist Church. When the Spence family resided in Perry Co., Tennessee, they attended a Primitive Baptist Church. So it is not surprising that the O’Briants, Bryants and Prillamans attended the same type of church.] defines the Primitive Baptists as follows:

Primitive Baptists are a group of Baptists that have an historical connection to the missionary/anti-missionary controversy that divided Baptists of America in the early part of the 19th century. Those currently denominated Primitive Baptists consist of descendants of churches and ministers that opposed the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions (org. 1814), as well as other innovations such as seminaries and temperance societies. Early leaders include Joshua Lawrence, John Leland, Daniel Parker, and John Taylor. Other names by which Primitive Baptists are known are Predestinarian Baptists, Old School Baptists, Regular Baptists, Particular Baptists and Hardshells. The word “Primitive” is sometimes taken by outsiders to mean “backward”, but in context of this division among Baptists, it means “original”. These churches attempt to retain and/or restore primitive (or original) patterns of church life, such as unsalaried ministers, a cappella singing and feet washing [7].

No doubt Dennis O’Briant, John Bryant, and Daniel Prillaman were initially reluctant to take an oath of allegiance because they thought their only loyalty should be to God and not to man. But as the Revolutionary War progressed, the Baptists in Virginia sought to disengage the power of the Anglican Church in the state. According to an article titled “Baptists in the United States”:

There was a sharp [difference] between the austerity of the plain-living Baptists and the opulence of the Anglican planters, who controlled local government. Baptist church discipline, mistaken by the gentry for radicalism, served to ameliorate disorder. The struggle for religious toleration erupted and was played out during the American Revolution, as the Baptists worked to disestablish the Anglican church. Beeman (1978) explores the conflict in one Virginia locality, showing that as population became more dense, the county court and the Anglican Church were able to increase their authority. The Baptists protested vigorously; the resulting social disorder resulted chiefly from the ruling gentry’s disregard of public need. The vitality of the religious opposition made the conflict between ‘evangelical’ and ‘gentry’ styles a bitter one. Kroll-Smith (1984) suggests the strength of the evangelical movement’s organization determined its ability to mobilize power outside the conventional authority structure [8].

In addition to the Baptist resistance to continued Anglican control, there was another factor in the Piedmont area of Virginia and North Carolina that may have changed the minds of Dennis O’Briant, John Bryant and Dennis Prillaman. That factor came in the form of a Tory by the name of David Fanning and in other men like him!

David Fanning was to the American Revolution what William Clarke Quantrill became to the Civil War almost a century later. Born in 1755 to David Fanning in Amelia Co., Virginia, David Fanning was orphaned before he was even born when his father drowned in the Deep River. He eventually moved to North Carolina, where he remained staunchly loyalist in his views. In writing the Biographical History of North Carolina, Ashe had this to say about Fanning:

“David Fanning, one of the most extraordinary men evolved by the Revolutionary War was born bout the year 1756….Gov. Swain…in tracing his career stated that he was born in that part of Johnston County which has since been embraced in Wake, and that he was apprenticed to a Mr. Bryan, from whom he ran away when about sixteen years of age….He was untaught and unlettered, and he had the scald head, that became so offensive that he did not eat at the table with the family; and in subsequent life he wore a silk cap so that his most intimate friends never saw his head naked. (1906. Ashe, Samuel. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. V, p.90.)

“…His remorseless rapine and murderous execution were without a parallel. Besides individual hangings and minor encounters, he had participated in thirty-six bloody engagements; and the plantations he had ravaged and despoiled, leaving ruin and suffering in his path, were innumerable. The General Assembly extended amnesty and pardon to all Tories with the exception of three, and Fanning was among those proscribed. His crimes and butcheries were beyond forgiveness.(1906. Ashe, Samuel. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. V. p.97.)

“In September 1784, he located near St. John’s, New Brunswick, and later resided at Digby, Nova Scotia where he died in 1825.” (1906. Ashe, Samuel. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. V. p.97.)

“During the Revolutionary War, and for several years thereafter, the middle and western counties of North Carolina were infested by lawless bands of Tories and ruffians, who, led by desperate men like David Fanning, pillaged the country, and often slew unprotected persons without mercy. (1917. Ashe, Samuel et al in “Jacob Long,” Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. VIII, p.287.) [9].

The History of Henry Co., Virginia indicates that during the Revolutionary War, Dennis O’Briant furnished “300 pounds of nett beef” for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War”[10].

The records are silent about the marriage of John Bryant with [Elizabeth??] O’Briant. However, I have developed a scenario after piecing available records together. Daniel Prillaman married Ann O’Briant in 1777. I believe John Bryant married [Elizabeth??] O’Briant between 1780 and 1785. [Elizabeth??] may have died in childbirth, and I think that she was dead by 1792. On July 10, 1792, Dennis O’Briant, Sr. signed over his plantation to his son-in-law Daniel Prillaman as a deed of gift. John did not remarry until 1802. I could not find any records of surviving children for John and his first wife. Dennis O’Briant, Jr. hadn’t married as yet. And Dennis O’Briant, Sr. appears to have died in early 1793 without a will [11].

Another Bryant appears in Henry County about this period of time: James Bryant, b. before 1765. This James Bryant may have been a younger brother of John Bryant, and decided to join him in Henry County. James Bryant married Sallie Brummett (b. 1768) on July 7, 1788 in Franklin Co., Virginia. She was the daughter of James and Agnes Brummett of Franklin County. The James Bryants moved to Knox Co., Kentucky, where they appear on the tax lists for 1803-1810, as well as on the 1810 Census. They next appear on the 1820 and 1830 Census for Monroe Co., Indiana. The names of their children are not known [12]. A Lewis Bryant also appears in Franklin Co., Virginia Court Records in 1786-1787, both as a jury member and as a participant in some of the actions. He may have been another of John’s brothers and seems to have moved to Bertie Co., North Carolina. According to Bertie, NC Vital Statistics 1700s-1920, Lewis Bryant was born between 1765 and 1784 and he died after 1808 [13].

Dennis O’Briant, Jr., son of Dennis O’Briant, Sr., married Ruth Manier/Maynor in Franklin Co., Virginia September 5, 1792. She was the daughter of Richard Tucker Manier/Maynor and Ann Wright. Richard Manier posted the surety bond [14]. Some records at indicate that Ruth was born about 1770 in Baltimore, Maryland, and that her family came from there. Dennis and Ruth had two children: Nancy M. O’Briant (m. Levi Martin on February 8, 1808, Franklin Co., Virginia-Daniel Prillaman posted bond) [15] and Richard O’Briant (1795-1850) [16].

Richard Briant married Annie Young Nov. 2, 1815 in Franklin Co., Virginia. James Young posted bond for the marriage. [17] Richard and Anne remained in Franklin County. They had thirteen children:

John Tucker Briant/Bryant, b. Feb. 11, 1827

Mary Briant/Bryant, b. June 14, 1823

Virginia “Janny” Bryant, b. Oct. 26, 1839

Oney Bryant, b. April 16, 1818; d. Feb. 28, 1908

James Madison Bryant, b. Aug. 25, 1847

Elizabeth Bryant, b. Feb. 14, 1825; d. April 22, 1900

Sarah “Sally” Bryant, b. May 13, 1831; d. Dec. 3, 1915 David Bryant, b. Sept. 12, 1828; d. Nov. 11, 1864 (Danville, Virginia)

Eliza Ann Bryant, b. July 9, 1833; d. June 7, 1889 (Huntington, Cobell WV)

Nancy Bryant, b. Feb. 13, 1820; d. March 5, 1913, Carroll Co., VA

Dennis (Briant) Bryant, b. Sept. 7 1816

Charity Elizabeth Bryant, b. Nov. 15, 1836; d. June 7, 1913

Jacob Bryant, b. May 1, 1821; d. Oct. 30, 1916 [18].

Richard Bryant died in 1850/1853 in Franklin Co., Virginia. Some records indicate that he was a doctor.

Dennis O’Briant, Jr. died in late 1801 or in early-to-mid 1802. And on September 6, 1802, John Bryant married Ruth Maynor O’Briant in Franklin Co. Virginia [19]. John and Ruth Maynor Bryant became the parents of Daniel Bryant, father of Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence.

Daniel Bryant was born in 1803 to John and Ruth Bryant in Franklin Co., Virginia. His brother David Bryant was born in 1812. John and Ruth Bryant appear as the parents of Nancy Maynor O’Briant on the 1808 Franklin County Marriage Record, but Nancy was really the child of Dennis and Ruth Maynor O’Briant, as was Richard. John and Ruth may have had additional children, but apparently they did not survive.

The records grow silent after 1812 on John and Ruth Bryant. Apparently they remained in Franklin County, but Daniel Prilliman seems to take on the leadership role in the family. John and Ruth may have died by 1815/1820. I cannot find anything more about John and there is no record of Ruth’s remarriage. If their parents had died, Daniel and David would have moved in with other family members. In all likelihood, they lived with the Prillimans until they were old enough to go out on their own. Then the Key and Spencer families moved to Franklin County-an event that would shape the rest of their lives.

Of all these families, the Key family has been the easiest to trace. Lucy Key was born in 1810 to William Wesley Key (1783-abt. 1860) and Susanna Akers (1777-1819) in Franklin Co., Virginia. The Keys originated in Albemarle Co., Virginia. William Wesley Key (who generally used his middle name) married Susanna Akers in Franklin Co. September 3, 1804. His parents were William Key (1751-1808) and Rachel Hansbrough (1760-1807) [20].

On November 17, 1829, Daniel Bryant married Lucy Key in Franklin Co., Virginia. The surety’s name was John Spencer [21]. Two years previously, John Spencer married Rachael Key on November 20, 1827 in Franklin Co., Virginia. The surety was Wesley Key(s) [22]. Then on October 27, 1834, David Bryant married Rachael Spencer in Franklin Co., Virginia. The surety was Wesley Key [23]. Daniel and David Bryant were brothers. Lucy and Rachael Key were sisters. Wesley Key was their father. Rachael Spencer was John Spencer’s daughter from his first marriage. John Spencer’s father was Sharp Spencer (1770-1834). John (b. ca. 1788) was the half-brother of William Spencer (1817-1888)-who would later relocate with the Bryants to Jasper Co., Missouri and who was one of the defendants in the 1880 grand jury investigation in the John Bass Jones murder case!

Sharp Spencer died in Putnam Co. Indiana December 12, 1834 [24]. On September 7, 1835, William Spencer married Jane Angel in Putnam Co., Indiana [25]. [The Franklin Co., Virginia marriage records show a number of Angel and Truelove marriages, so members of Jane’s family must have settled in Franklin.]

The Bryants remained in Franklin County. Daniel and Lucy’s son, John A. Bryant, was born 1830 in Franklin County [26]. I do not have an exact day or month for him. Daniel and Lucy did not keep written records since they could not read or write, as indicated on later census records. The family may have moved to Cumberland Co., Virginia as Adeline Elizabeth Bryant was born there May 27, 1833 [27].

Five years later, the Bryants elected to follow the Spencers to Clinton Tp., Putnam Co., Indiana, where they all appear on the 1840 census record:

Daniel Bryant-Clinton, Putnam—1 m 10-14; 1 m 30-39; 1 m 50-59; 1 f 10-14; 1 f 20-29; Total: 5 David Bryant—-Clinton, Putnam-1 m -5; 1 m 15-19; 1 f 20-29; Total: 3 William Spencer-Clinton, Putnam-1 m -5; 1 m 15-19; 1 f -5; 1 f 20-29; Total: 5 [28].

I don’t know what happened to John Spencer and Rachel Key. They may have moved to Kentucky, or they may have relocated to Ohio. A number of Key family members settled near Dayton.

Lucy’s father, William Wesley Key, a widower by 1830 since his wife died in 1819, lived with the Daniel Bryant family in Putnam County. On the 1900 census record for the Lazarus Spence family in Newton Co., Missouri, Lucy Key Bryant indicated that she had given birth to three children and by 1900, only one of those children survived [29].

In 1843, the Bryants and the Spencers relocated to Jasper County, Missouri and settled near Sarcoxie. David Bryant and his family also accompanied them there. Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence’s story is detailed in the first part of this article, so I won’t repeat it here. At the age of 15, she married Lazarus Spence, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Inman Spence, December 23, 1848 in Jasper County. The 1850 Census for Jasper County shows the following:

Daniel Bryant, age 47, farmer, b. Virginia (unable to read or write) Lucy Bryant, age 40, b. Virginia (unable to read or write) John A. Bryant, age 20, b. Virginia Wesley Key, age 73, b. Virginia (listed as “insane.”) Lazarus Spence, age 24, b. Tennessee Adeline Spence, age 17, b. Virginia.

David Bryant, age 38, b. Virginia (unable to read or write) Rachel Bryant, age 42, b. Virginia (unable to read or write)

William Spencer, age 28, b. Kentucky (unable to read or write) Jane Spencer, age 32, b. Kentucky (unable to read or write) James H. Spencer, age 14, b. Indiana Mary C. Spencer, age 12, b. Indiana Dorcas Spencer, age 10, b. Indiana John A. or H. Spencer, age 9, b. Indiana Minerva J. Spencer, age 6, b. Missouri William D. Spencer, age 4, b. Missouri Milly E. Spencer, age 1, b. Missouri [30].

On September 15, 1858, Daniel Bryant died. He is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. Lucy Key Bryant then lived with the Lazarus Spence family, and she appears on the 1860 Jasper County Census with them. By 1860, Wesley Key had died and in all probability, he is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. (A discussion of the 1860 Jasper County Census for the William Spencer family is in Part 2 of the Who Killed John Bass Jones? article at this website.) John A. Bryant and David Bryant both appear on the 1860 Census for Jackson Tp., Jasper County, Missouri as follows:

John A. Bryant, age 31, Wagonmaker, b. Virginia

Nancy E. Bryant, age 26, b. Tennessee

Lucy A. Bryant, age 4, b. Missouri

Daniel Bryant, age 3, b. Missouri

Arabella Bryant, age 1, b. Missouri

David Bryant, age 48, b. Virginia

Rachel Bryant, age 50, b. Virginia

Sarah B. Bryant, age 18, b. Indiana [31].

John A. Bryant married Nancy E. Martin in Jasper Co., Missouri September 26, 1852 [32]. She was the daughter of Brice Martin and Nancy Burrus, who were early settlers in Jasper County. Brice Martin was born in 1810 and died in Jasper County in 1846. Nancy Martin Bryant died in Kansas in 1875. The children of John A. Bryant and Nancy Martin were:

Lucy A. Bryant, b. 1854, Jasper Co., Missouri

Daniel Boone Bryant, b. 1856, Jasper Co., Missouri

Arabella Bryant, b. 1860, Jasper Co., Missouri

Frances A. Bryant, b. 1861

William Edward Bryant, b. 1864

John A. Bryant, b. 1867

Charles Bryant, b. 1869

His second wife, Mary Amelia Denniston, was born in 1844. They had a daughter named Mable A. Bryant, who was born in 1875 [33].

Like the Lazarus Spence family, the John A. Bryant, David Bryant, and William Spencer families fled Missouri during the Civil War and relocated to Kansas. William Spencer appears on the Tax records for 1865 in Mound City, Kansas [34].  John A. Bryant appears on the Tax records for Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas. I imagine Lucy Key Bryant went to Kansas with the John A. Bryant family since Lazarus and Adeline had to “get out of Dodge fast!” John Bryant did not return to Missouri, but remained at Fort Scott, Kansas. He appears on the tax records in Fort Scott for 1865, and he is also on the Census records for 1870 and 1880 [35]. He died in Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas about 1887 or 1888. I don’t have the exact date of his death.

David Bryant also left Missouri for Kansas and did not return there. He appears on the 1865 Tax Records for Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas with the Samuel and Sarah Spence family of Jasper County. (Samuel was a son of Daniel Spence and Mary Polly Pewitt.) Samuel’s brother, Joel and wife Martha are also residing there [36]. (The Spences returned to Jasper County after the war.) David Bryant last appears on the 1870 Census for Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas with his wife Rachel [37]. I have no date of death for him, but he would have died before 1880.

William Spencer returned from Mound City, Kansas after the war and settled on his place in Jasper County. A full account of William Spencer is detailed in Part 2 of the Who Shot John Bass Jones? article at this website. I do have additional information concerning his children by his first wife Jane Angel, and will incorporate that information here:

James Harvey Spencer–b. Aug. 9, 1832, Putnam Co., Indiana; d. 1921, Jasper Co., Missouri; buried in Moss Springs; m. (1) Elizabeth Casebolt, Sept. 9, 1858, Jasper Co., Missouri; (2) Elizabeth Jones, Jasper Co., Missouri.

Mary Catherine Spencer-b. abt. 1838, Putnam Co., Indiana; d. July 2, 1912. No additional information.

Dorcus Spencer-b. July 9, 1839, Putnam Co., Indiana; d. March 29, 1918, Sarcoxie, Jasper, Mo (senility); buried in the Dudman Cemetery March 30, 1918; m. Alonzo Decalvis Deming Feb. 25, 1865.

John M. Spencer-b. 1841, probably Indiana. No additional information.

Minerva J. Spencer-b. March 31, 1844, Jasper Co., Missouri; m. Henry C. Shively, Jan. 1, 1874.

William D. Spencer-b. 1846, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. aft. 1870, Jasper Co., Missouri. No additional information.

Millie Emaline Spencer-b. 1848, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. September 2, 1916, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri (cancer of the face); buried September 3, 1916, Moss Springs Cemetery. [Note: This daughter appears to never have married. In 1880, she took care of William Spencer’s twin daughters by Elizabeth Ady, as well as his three year-old son William Hayes Spencer-also by Elizabeth.]

Clemantine Spencer-b. 1851, Jasper Co., Missouri. No additional information.

Ananias Spencer-b. 1856, Jasper Co., Missouri; d. Oct. 30, 1936, Jasper Co., Missouri. Buried November

1936. (Location unknown)[38].

(I have no additional information on William Hayes Spencer, b. 1877, Jasper Co., Missouri to William Spencer and Elizabeth Ady. He may have died young. The twin daughters born to William and Elizabeth in May 1880 also disappear from the record.)

After returning to Jasper County from Kansas, Lazarus and Adeline Bryant Spence spent the rest of their days in Jasper County. Their names appeared in The Carthage Press from time to time, such as the following in the issue dated July 14, 1887:

A Relic Returned

During the rebellion, when General Marshall was taken prisoner, his saddle was purchased for $10 by Lazarus Spence of Union Tp, who has kept it in a good state of preservation, except natural wear and tear. Tuesday, the saddle was purchased by our townsman, James Rainwater, who fully boxed it and sent it to John S. Marshall, present Governor of Missouri. He will doubtless prize the same as a relic of the late war [39].

In her 1921 interview in Part 1 of this article, Adeline Spence mentioned two orphaned children she and her husband had taken under their care. Lazarus and Adeline never had children of their own. The 1870 Census for the Lazarus Spence family identifies the names of the orphaned children Lazarus and Adeline raised:

Lazarus Spence, age 46, b. Tennessee

Adeline E. Spence, age 37, b. Virginia

Jesse J. Vermillion, age 16, b. Arkansas

Mary E. Vermillion, age 12, b. Missouri

Martha J. Vermillion, age 9, b. Missouri

Lucy Bryant, age 60, b. Virginia

William Key, age 56, b. Virginia

Susan Key, age 50, b. Indiana [40].

William Key was a younger brother of Lucy Key Bryant and Susan Key was his wife. The two orphaned children who were taken in by the Spences were Mary and Martha Vermillion. Jesse Vermillion, their brother, lived with the Hagerty family in Kansas but by 1870, he moved in with the Spences, no doubt to learn the trade of a blacksmith from Lazarus Spence. They were the children of Hiram F. Vermillion (1820-1860) and Octavia B. Boren (1835-1860) [41].

The son of William Vermillion (b. 1809), Hiram F. Vermillion was born in Tennessee in 1820. He married Octavia B. Boren in Franklin Co., Arkansas on August 1, 1850 [42]. The Vermillions appear on the 1850 Census for Mulberry Tp., Franklin Co., Arkansas [43].

They had the following children:

Jesse John Vermillion, Sr., b. 1853, Arkansas.

James Boren Vermillion, b. 1855, Arkansas

Mary Elizabeth Vermillion, b. 1858, Missouri

Martha J. Vermillion, b. 1860, Missouri [44].

The name of Hiram Vermillion’s mother is not known, but he had a number of sisters and brothers: H. W. Vermillion, b. 1825; Rachael Vermillion, b. 1826; Martha Jane Vermillion, b. 1828; Edward R. B. Vermillion, b. 1832 [45].

Rachael Vermillion married Jonathan Sherman Scripps Hagerty (b. 1824, Old Miller Arkansas) on January 16, 1851 in Franklin Co., Arkansas. By 1860s, the Swaggertys had moved to Mound City, Linn Co., Kansas, where they remained [46]. Rachel died in January 7, 1885, and Jonathan married Sarah Elizabeth Marrs October 25, 1888 in Blue Mound, Linn Co., Kansas. Jonathan died October 18, 1899 in Blue Mound, Kansas [47].

By the late 1850s, a number of families began moving from Arkansas to Kansas, and the route took them to Jasper Co., Missouri. Pioneers often left part of their families in Jasper County while they went on to prepare a place for them to live in Kansas. Such was the case of Hiram W. Vermillion. A number of Hiram’s family members had already relocated to Kansas and had settled in Bourbon County near Fort Scott. Hiram’s brother William appears on the Kansas Election List for the 6th District of Kansas in 1854 [48]. In 1855, William Vermillion appears on the Territorial Census Records for the 6th District [49]. In all likelihood, Hiram moved his family to Jasper County about 1854 or 1855, and then went to Kansas to join his brother.  He returned to Jasper County periodically to see his family.

A fever struck Bourbon County in 1860. It may have been typhoid, cholera, or dysentery, but it claimed the lives of a number of people living in the area. Lydia J. Vermillion, age 37, a housewife, probably the housewife of William Vermillion, died of the fever there in March of that year [50].

On October 1, 1860, Octavia B. Boren Vermillion died in childbirth with her daughter, Martha J., in Jasper County, Missouri. Subsequently, Hiram Vermillion died October 9, 1860 in Jasper County, Missouri[52]. They left the four children: Jesse, James, Mary and Martha. The two boys went to live with their aunt and uncle, Jonathan and Rachel Hagerty in Linn Co., Kansas, [53] while the two girls went to live with Lazarus and Adeline Spence in Jasper County, Missouri [54]. Lazarus and Adeline adopted the girls between 1860 and 1861. The girls’ stories follow:

Mary Elizabeth Vermillion Spence was born March 3, 1858 in Jasper County, Missouri. On June 4, 1877, she married John Adam Shafer (1852-1926) in Newton County, Missouri. Their children were: (a) Charles Edmund Shafer (1877-1926); (b) Fred Austin Shafer (1881-1929); (c) John Lionel Shafer (1885-1953); (d) Earl Silas Shafer (1888-1940); (e) Harry Elbert Shafer (1890-1956). Mary died December 25, 1926 in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. She is buried in the Forest Park Cemetery.

Martha Jane Vermillion Spence was born October 1, 1860 in Jasper County, Missouri. On April 23, 1876, she married William Hastings Defries (1855-1938) in Newton County, Missouri. Their children were: (a) Magdalene Defries (b. 1877); (b) William Lazarus Defries (1879-1937); (c) Annie Adeline “Addie” Defries (1882-1968); (d) Jesse James Defries (1885-1960); (e) Ernest Todd Defries (1889-1967); (f) Crystal Audrey Defries (1900-1985).  Martha died in 1915 in Oklahoma and is buried in Bixby.

Information on the two brothers follows:

Jesse John Vermillion lived with the Swagertys in Kansas and then with Lazarus and Adeline Spence in Missouri. He was born in Arkansas in 1853. His wife was Percilla “Ella” C. Clary (1858-1900). Their children were: (a) Mary Ellen “Ella” Vermillion (1880-1975); (b) Jesse John Vermillion, Jr. (1885-1963). Jesse died before 1900 in Kansas.

James Boren Vermillion also lived with the Swagertys in Kansas. He was born in Arkansas in 1855, although his death record says 1857. He never married.  James died July 3, 1930 in Sacramento, California.

Lazarus Spence died November 15, 1902 in Jasper County, Missouri. He is buried in the Moss Springs Cemetery. Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence lived to the age of 98 and died January 6, 1931 in Jasper County, Missouri. She is buried beside her husband in the Moss Springs Cemetery, Jasper County, Missouri.



[1] Cornelius O’Bryan Will, Augusta Co., VA Will Book 1, Page 330.

[2] “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County” by Lyman Chalkley. WB1-394

[3] “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County” by Lyman Chalkley, WB1-130

[4] “Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County” by Lyman Chalkley. Book 10-458

[5] Ancestors of Michael Lee Smith. Available at

[6] Daniel Perillaman Public Member Story, Ancestry. com. Available at

[7] Primitive Baptist Definition. Available at

[8] “Baptists in the United States.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Available at

[9] “David Fanning,” Western North Carolina Available at

[10] “History of Henry County, Virginia” p. 321. Available at

[11] Prillaman-Armstrong Family Tree: Alice Virginia Prillaman. Private Member Tree. Available at

[12] Everson, Jr. Family Tree. Available at

[13] Bertie County, North Carolina Vital Statistics about Lewis Bryant, Available at

[14] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 171. Available at

[15] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 150. Available at

[16) Maynor Family Tree. Available at

[17] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858. N.p. Available at

[18] Ancestral File Record: Richard Briant/Bryant. Available at

[19] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 122. Available at

[20] Key and Allied Families, Mrs. Julian C. Lane. [Database online]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Available at

[21] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 48. Available at

[22] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 48. Available at

[23] Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, Virginia for 1786-1858, p. 50. Available at

[24] Riddle Family Tree. Available at

[25] Riddle Family Tree, Available at

[26] Williams Family Tree/Noah Martin, Available at

[27] Ancestors of Rhonda Etter, Available at

[28] 1840 Census, Clinton Tp., Putnam Co., Indiana. Available at

[29] 1900 Census, Marion Tp., Newton Co., Missouri. Available at

[30] 1850 Census, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri. Available at

[31] 1860 Census, Jackson Tp., Jasper Co., Missouri. Available at

[32] Bill & Suzy Family Trees. Available at

[33] Williams Family Tree/Noah Martin. Available at; Bill & Suzy Family Trees. Available at

[34] 1865 Mound City, Kansas Tax Records. Available at

[35] 1870 and 1880 Census, Fort Scott, Bourbon Co., Kansas. Available at

[36] 1865 Tax Records, Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas. Available at

[37] 1870 Census, Palmyra Tp., Douglas Co., Kansas. Available at

[38] Cloe Family Tree. Available at

[39] “A Relic Returned”, The Carthage Press, July 14, 1887. Available on microfilm: Jasper County Public Library, Carthage, Missouri.

[40] 1870 Census, Jasper County, Missouri. Available at

[41] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[42] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[43] 1850 Census, Mulberry Tp., Franklin Co., Arkansas. Available at

[44] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[45] Dillman Family Tree, Available at

[46] 1860 Census, Mound City, Kansas, Available at

[47] Pool-Swagerty-Landrum-Shockley Family Tree. Available at

[48] 1854 Kansas Election List, 6th District: William Vermillion. Available at

[49] 1855 Kansas Territorial Census, 6th District: William Vermillion. Available at

[50] U. S. Federal Mortality Schedules Index, 1860, Bourbon Co., Kansas: Lydia J. Vermillion. Available at

[51] 1860 Census, Raysville, Bourbon Co., Kansas. Available at

[52] Pool-Swagerty-Landrum-Shockley Family Tree. Available at

[53] 1870 Census, Linn Co., Kansas, John Swagerty Family. Available at

[54] 1870 Census, Jasper Co., Missouri, Lazarus Spence Family. Available at






The Country of Six Bulls: Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence (1833-1931)—Part 1

Taken at Fort Garland, Colorado, April 25, 2015

Pioneer Sculpture. Photo taken at Fort Garland, Colorado, April 25, 2015


“The Country of the Six Bulls.-The earliest name known to have been affixed to this region, was that of the “Country of the Six Bulls.” All the earliest settlers knew it by that title. The origin of the name is somewhat involved in mystery. It might naturally be supposed that it originated with the Indians, and the tradition has been handed down that the Indians, at an early period, killed somewhere in this region six lusty buffalo bulls, remarkable for their strength and fierceness, and from this circumstance the scene of their valorous exploit was ever afterward known as the Country of the Six Bulls. It has been justly remarked, however, that this explanation would seem more plausible if we had the name in the Indian language instead of such plain and unmistakable Saxon(1).”


“BACKGROUND HISTORY OF Missouri, previously the 6 Bulls Indian Confederation. 1541 AD 6 Bulls was by treaty placed under the Sovereign of Spain by Desoto. By 1800 AD, 6 Bulls Sovereignship was force ceded to France. Then 1802/3 – 6 Bulls Sovereignship was ceded to the USA for consideration of 15 million dollars. 1802/3 AD to 1812 AD, – 6 Bulls under the sovereign of the USA. 1804 it was divided and organized into “Orleans Territory” and the remainder was “Louisiana regions” annexed to Illinois District annexed to Indiana Territory, (the Louisiana regions embraced what is today’s Dallas County, Mo), during this time, in 1808, the Osage sold and ceded 6 Bulls, to her sovereign the USA. But with in a year, the Indians of 6 Bulls, tried to overturn this treaty, and when unsuccessful, declared a war that lasted to 1828(2).”



Adeline Elizabeth Bryant was born May 27, 1833 in Cumberland County, Virginia to Daniel Bryant (1803-1858) and Lucy Key (1810-1903). She died January 6 1931 in Diamond, Newton County, Missouri.  She married my third great-uncle, Lazarus Spence (1825- 1902), in December 1848 in Jasper Co,.Missouri. The Bryants had relocated from Putnam Co., Indiana in 1843 and settled in the “Country of Six Bulls.” The Bryants were among the early pioneers in the Jasper/Newton County area.

I first encountered Adeline in Summer 1955 while spending a week with my grandparents in Marion, Iowa. Typical of many summers in Iowa, it was too hot to move. So my grandmother, Oda Elizabeth Hopper Spence (1894-1981), began looking around for quiet activities to keep me occupied.

“Would you like to read something?” she asked. “I have it up in my trunk.”

I followed her upstairs to the huge trunk sitting on the floor of her closet. I watched as she raised the lid and moved a few papers. Then she pulled out an old newspaper clipping.

“You can sit at the dining room table and copy it if you like,” she told me.

“Who was Adeline Spence?” I asked after sitting down at the table.

“She was married to Daddy’s great uncle!” she told me.

(She always referred to my Grandfather Spence as Daddy!)

I spent an hour hand-copying that news story in ink. When I returned home, I put it inside a notebook and forgot about it for a long time. Years later when Howard, Brian and Debbie and I were “snowed-in” for a month in Missouri, I discovered that old notebook at the bottom of a box. Then I typed the  handwritten story and put it inside another notebook for safe-keeping.

This news story and another clipping became the foundation for my Spence research years later.

The following is Adeline Elizabeth Bryant Spence’s story taken from The Carthage Press, Jasper Co., Missouri September 7, 1922.(3)

* * *


She Came Here in 1843

Among the persons who can be considered “old settlers” in real earnest is Mrs. Adeline Spence who lives on the Carthage-Neosho road a short distance south of the Jasper-Newton county line.

“I was born in Virginia in 1833,” Mrs. Spence remarked a few days ago in answer to enquiries, “and when I was five years old my parents moved to Indiana. After living in Indiana five years, my father Daniel Bryant, decided to come to Missouri and so we did, I being ten years old at the time, this being in 1843. There were many oxen in those days but my father always drove horses and it was in a spring hack, known as a carry-all that we came, driving by way of St. Louis and then down. Missouri did not look very good to me during that trip but when we arrived in Jasper County it was more pleasant and my father rented a farm on Jenkins Creek about two and a half miles southeast of where the Old Settlers Picnic Grounds now are. The place, now known as the Paxton Place was owned by a man named Moore, who lived in Little Rock, Ark, and there was already a house and some improvements on the ground. Here we went to farming and lived about six years. The country was new then but there were a good many people here before we came, some of them having been here long enough to have bearing orchards. Samuel Spence then owned about 300 acres of ground including what is now the Old Settler picnic grounds and Daniel Spence owned what later became the Moss farm just east of it.


Wild Game of Pioneer Days

“The country was full of game in those days and the ground being new produced all kinds of crops abundantly. People were sociable, anxious to do right and to extend a helping hand to their neighbors and despite the fact that people worked hard in that early day I believe that they were much happier than people are at present. My brother and I used to trap quail and prairie chicken of which there was a great number. We made slatted traps something like a chicken coop, placed corn inside and then would get long straps and round up quail. The birds would run from us and we would herd them toward the trap and eventually a number of them would be enticed in by the corn. Then we had them. Prairie chickens were also often caught in our traps, but these were enticed in by the corn; we could not drive them like we could the quail.

“Deer was plentiful and venison, prepared just like we prepare beef these days, was common. Venison was very good but personally I always thought that beef was a more palatable meat. My brother, John A. Bryant, who was quite small, was fond of hunting and soon after we came managed to trade for an old heavy-barreled, flint-lock rifle. There really was not much more than the barrel and lock to the gun when he got it as the stock was all worn out and broken. Carthage had not been founded yet and he took the gun to Sarcoxie and gave someone there a dried venison ham to fit a new stock to it. Soon after he came back with his new gun he killed a deer and then he was extremely proud. Deer skins brought a fair price even then but later it became much better.


Bees–and Indians

“Everybody had bees in those days and honey was on almost every table every meal. There were many wild bees but people soon began to capture the wild swarms and they quickly became tame. The ordinary form of bee gum was a hollow tree sawed into short sections. These sections were set on end and the bees took to them readily which was not surprising inasmuch as these resembled the natural bee trees that they would have chosen. In getting out the honey we blew smoke in the top of the section of hollow log. This forced the bees to go down and we would dip the top of the honey. Then we forced in more smoke and made the bees go still lower. Then we dug out another part of it, and so on.

“On two occasions Indians came to the house. The first time about a dozen Osage–all men–camped on Jenkins creek a short distance north of our house and all came down to the dwelling frightening all of us children, and I expect my mother also, very much. If they had guns or bows and arrows they left them at the camp before they came to see us but all of them had big knives which they displayed freely. My father had a grindstone just outside the door and all of them sharpened their knives on this. They came in the house and looked around curiously, but hardly said a word. Finally they went away without having bothered us at all other than giving us a scare. They were of course friendly Indians and were acting only in the natural Indian manner. Another band called on us later but we knew how to take them and they did not worry us.

“In 1848, two days before Christmas I was married to Lazarus Spence, I being at that time fifteen years old, and we moved over on Jones Creek east of where Haggard’s store now stands. We lived here peaceably enough until the war broke out, my husband farming and also doing some blacksmith work.

Early Days of the War

“We were union sympathizers when the war came up and I well remember the sensation that was caused in this section when Colonel Sigel and his union soldiers marched down in this section to Neosho. The news that the Yankees had come spread like wildfire all over the country and all the union men were delighted and anxious to see them. My husband, my brother and a number of others hauled a load of corn apiece to Neosho to give to Sigel, thus incidentally getting a chance to get a look at the soldiers. This was not an unnatural thing to do but it caused every one that did it to be a marked man and made life in the community thereafter unsafe for them. After Sigel marched north, fought the southerners at Carthage and went back east again this section was full of soldiers of the Missouri state guard. They were at our house frequently and bought food stuffs and required my husband to shoe horses for them. They always paid for this work and for whatever they took but they paid in confederate currency which was not worth the paper it was printed on and did not do us any good.


Visited by Guerillas

“After those soldiers had gone we had frequent visits from bushwhackers. At first these were all right, treating us courteously, paying in confederate money for the things they took. Soon they became worse and life became unsafe for the people of union sympathy. My husband had a good rifle but for fear that someone would take it from him he kept it hid most of the time out in the grass. One day three heavily armed men rode by our house, out into our lot, caught three horses and made off with them, coming riding calmly by the house again leading the animals. Mr. Spence was furious and it was with difficulty that I prevented him from rushing out for his rifle but if he had done so he would have been killed and he eventually let them go unhindered. They went down to the house of Miles Stacey, a tenant of ours and a southern sympathizer and there changed saddles to our horses and rode away, leading the mounts on which they had come.

“After this my husband kept his rifle in the house. Upstairs the wall inside the house did not reach quite to the ceiling. He kept a piece of string tied to his rifle and kept it hung between the inner and outer wall on a nail down in the exterior surface of the inner wall. No one knew of this place except the family and Miles Stacey but Stacey frequently borrowed the gun and when through with it brought it back and replaced it. One day a dozen or so bushwhackers who were said to live near Granby came to our house. Mr. Spence, knowing he would probably be killed if they found him, was hiding out and I was there alone when they came. They pushed in the door but would not say anything to me but went upstairs and soon came down again, carrying a number of blankets and my husband’s rifle. He was so fond of this gun that I knew he would feel its loss keenly and I grabbed hold of it and tried to jerk it out of the bushwhacker’s hands. He jerked it away from me and all went outside. They took three more horses out of the lot, this being all we had except one unbroken two-year-old that was out in the brush and started off. Miles Stacey came out and argued with them, asking that we be left one horse so they finally brought back one of the three. We always thought that Miles Stacey had told where the rifle was hidden but we were glad that he saved at least one horse for us.

Flight to Kansas

“The situation seemed to be getting worse instead of better and on December 23, 1861 we loaded out possessions on a wagon, hitched up the horse the bushwhackers had left us and the hitherto unbroken colt and started out for Fort Scott. My husband was sick with the measles and so were the two orphan children that we had taken in charge but rather than risk death any longer where we were we started, Mr. Spence, sick as he was sitting in front of the wagon with his feet hanging out and the two children rolling on couches that we had made behind for them. On Christmas day we were in Dry Wood in Barton county and on account of the three sick we stopped here for two days, then went on to Fort Scott and stayed in that vicinity during the war. Joshua Stacey, a brother of Miles but a union man and another neighbor named Waggoner, went to Fort Scott with us and enlisted in the army as soon as they arrived there.

“As soon as the war was over we returned from Kansas and went back on our old farm. I was afraid to come back on account of the bushwhackers that I feared would still be here but all were gone and we lived on in peace. Some years after the war we moved to a farm just south of the Newton county line. I have thus been in the same immediate neighborhood for 79 years save for the period I was in Kansas during the war.”

This story is continued in Part 2



(1) HISTORY OF JASPER COUNTY, MISSOURI–1876 Atlas Pages 2-3. Copied from: Greene County Archives Bulletin Number Forty-three; Heritage County Atlas Reprints Volume 6 An Illustrated Historical Atlas Map of Jasper County, Mo. Published by Brink, McDonough & Co., 1876

(2) Jo Harris Fischer, “Dallas County, Missouri: Background History of Missouri.” Copyright: 2001. Missouri Website. Date Accessed: 13 Oct 2015. Available online at

(3) “She Came Here in 1843: Mrs. Adeline Spence Talks of Early Days: Gives Interesting recital of Conditions and Events Preceding the War and In 1861.” The Carthage Press: Old Settlers Edition. September 7, 1922.